There’s little that’s more frightening to a parent than a child who suddenly becomes breathless and begins to wheeze.

Among chronic diseases in children, asthma ranks first, with over 6 million kids having to live with it just in the United States. Asthma isn’t limited to the US, of course, and it’s not even limited to the developed nations.

Nations with the lowest per capita income suffer just as many cases of asthma as anyone else, although WHO (World Health Organization) states that many cases are not reported in those nations. Asthma cases are rising all around the world and has been over the last 30 years.

Those facts may be interesting, but when your child has asthma, it’s not a statistic or a trend. It’s serious business and it’s frightening for you and your child.

If you’re new to the world of childhood asthma, realize that this is one area where you need to depend on your doctor and follow his instructions carefully.

He should outline a plan of action that covers what treatment is to be used each day and what to look for in the way of symptoms so that you can head off an attack.

It will include when to go to the hospital emergency room and what to do in the meantime. Be familiar with all of it and follow it very specifically.

Make yourself familiar with the signs of an impending attack. Such varying symptoms include hyperactivity, sleep problems and clearing of the thoat. Coughing, being unusually tired or sleepy and breathing problems can be flags for you to watch for.

Different symptoms will occur at different times and some children tend to have the same types of symptoms more often.

You can learn what to watch for by paying attention to what your child is doing just before a full blown attack. Use a peak flow meter to check if you suspect an attack is coming on. Your doctor will be able to tell you what is normal and what is not when using the meter.

Make sure your child understands that he must take his medicine and that if any symptoms occur, he is to tell you immediately. Don’t frigten him but do stress that it’s important for you to know so that he doesn’t have to go to the hospital.

Some children react to too much physical activity, while others are bothered by dust, pollen or other common allergy causing triggers.

Know your child’s and avoid them as much as possible. It’s better to avoid an attack than to have to administer medicine for one because every medicine has its side effects that may or may not apparent.

Keep rescue medications on hand and keep an eye on the expiration dates. Notify teachers, babysitters and so on, that your child has asthma and has rescue medication at hand. Most schools allow a child to carry the medicine with him, but be sure they know what it is.

Your child will need to be aware of when he needs to take the medicine and not be embarrassed to do so. Again, impress upon him that his medication is very important and will keep him out of the hospital.

While asthma can be stressful and frightening, many, many children who have it are growing up, going to college, getting married, having kids and living successful, happy lives in many ways, so don’t be discouraged. Your child will, too.