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Kids’ Asthma Diagnosis Webcast

Your child’s asthma diagnosis: answers to your key questions about what’s next

If a child struggles to breathe, it’s normal to feel lost in a sea of ‘what ifs’ and ‘what nexts’. That’s why we’re throwing out a lifeline to anyone who needs real world advice on navigating a child’s asthma diagnosis.

Our first webcast was on February 27th! We’ll be hosting more in the future, but if you missed the first one checkout our youtube channel!

Our Experts

Our expert panel includes Dr. Theo Moraes, a Pediatric Respirologist and Clinician Scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto; Susan Balkovec, a Registered Respiratory Therapist and Certified Asthma Educator in the Respiratory Medicine Division at the Hospital for Sick Children; and a parent whose child has been diagnosed with asthma.  Having all three of these perspectives together will allow for an engaging and well-rounded conversation.

We’ll explore topics like:

  • Clinical management of your child’s asthma;
  • Navigating social matters; and
  • How to ensure that your child can live an active, normal life with asthma!

Questions about your child’s breathing? Need answers NOW?

Our Respiratory Therapists are ready to answer your questions and get your family breathing their best. Get in touch Monday to Friday (8:30 – 4:30) at 1-888-344-LUNG, by email at, or through the livechat feature of our site.


  1. What is a controller medicine?

There are two types of asthma medications:

  • Relievers: Reliever inhalers are taken as needed to quickly relieve symptoms
  • Controllers: Controller medications are taken on a daily basis to control and prevent asthma symptoms. Generally the most effective type of controlled medication is an inhaled corticosteroid.
  1. Is it bad to give controller (steroids) on daily basis?

It is important to understand the great benefits of keeping asthma under control. Keeping asthma well managed improves quality of life, including better breathing, exercising and sleeping. Keeping asthma under control can also reduce the risk of having a dangerous asthma attack.

It is very common for children with asthma to have an inhaled corticosteroid as an important part of their overall asthma management.  It is best to work with a healthcare provider to find the lowest dose of medication that keeps asthma symptoms under control.

For example, if a child has been given a certain dose of medication for several months and has not had any symptoms for a while, it is a good idea to visit a healthcare provider to see if the dose can be reduced or if they can try without the daily controller medications.

  1. Should inhaler use be stopped after symptoms are gone?

It is important to continue taking asthma medications as prescribed. Sometimes certain asthma medications are prescribed to be taken every day for a limited time, then stopped. However, asthma medications are very often prescribed to be taken every day, even if the child has no symptoms. This is because inhaled corticosteroids take some time to work. Plus if you stop taking them, the inflammation in the lungs will likely slowly return along with their symptoms. Very often the reason the child is not having any symptoms is because the medications are working.

  1. What percentage of children outgrown asthma?

There is no reliable data on the number of children that outgrow asthma, likely since there are so many possible paths asthma can take.

Some very young children seem to have asthma but over time the symptoms go away. Perhaps they didn’t have true asthma in the first place, and there were other reasons for wheezing.  It is naturally challenging to diagnose asthma in very young children.  With some people, asthma can go away in later childhood and then return later in life as an adult.

  1. Is Ryan’s Law specific to Ontario?

Yes, Ryan’s Law is specific to Ontario. To help protect Ontario students with asthma, Bill 20 (Ensuring Asthma Friendly Schools) was passed in 2015, which requires all school boards in the province to develop and maintain asthma policies and procedures that help protect students who have asthma.

  1. At what age, would an Aerochamber with a mouthpiece be recommended over one with a mask?

At around age five, or as soon as the child is able to inhale the medication properly through a mouthpiece, children should be switched from a spacer with a mask to a spacer with a mouthpiece.

  1. What is Brittle Asthma?

Terms such as “brittle asthma” or fragile asthma” have sometimes been used to reflect the severity of the asthma. These terms may also refer to the situation where an individual’s asthma goes from being well controlled to suddenly having a serious asthma attack. In these individuals, it is even more important to ensure their asthma is kept very well controlled, and that they monitor their asthma symptoms more closely.

  1. How is asthma diagnosed in a child less than 2 years?

The diagnosis of asthma is based on many things including:

  • Medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Test results

A healthcare provider will ask about many things, including:

  • The symptoms experienced
    • Asthma symptoms can be more likely to happen at night or in the early morning hours
    • Asthma symptoms vary over time
    • Exercise, cold air or having a cold often bring on asthma symptoms
    • Young children may not be able to describe how they are feeling, making it more difficult to check if they are having asthma symptoms
  • A child’s medical history and family medical history (e.g., eczema, hay fever/allergic rhinitis, food allergies)

The healthcare provider will also examine:

  • Chest sounds by listening with a stethoscope
  • Breathing rate
  • Nasal passages for signs of allergies
  • Skin for signs of eczema

Lung function tests (breathing tests), including something called spirometry, are an important part of diagnosing asthma, however children under the age of six are not usually able to do these lung function tests.

The healthcare provider may refer the child to an allergist for an allergy assessment.

The healthcare provider may prescribe asthma medications then look for any changes in asthma symptoms.

If their symptoms improve when taking the medications, this increases the likelihood that your child has asthma. Keep a diary of when the medications are given and any changes in symptoms.

  1. Do emergency rooms have an obligation to comply with an asthma action plan?

There is no obligation for an emergency department to comply with an asthma action plan. However, bringing a copy of your asthma action plan to the emergency department can help the healthcare providers in managing the asthma attack.

  1. Is there information on The Lung Association – Ontario website about keeping a home lung friendly?

Here is the link to some sections on our website that discuss ways to keep air clean:

This section is specific to asthma triggers: