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Asthma is a lung disease with recurring episodes which cause wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and coughing. Airways become smaller from inflammation and mucus inside the airway and muscle tightening on the outside of the airway. Asthma airways are sensitive and react or become narrow when a person breathes in anything irritating to the lungs. These irritants are called triggers, and identifying them is essential to treatment and prevention. Medications are used to control asthma since there is no cure and it may last a lifetime.

Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

Learn more about Allergy and Immunology services at Children's Mercy.

Who is impacted?

Asthma is one of the most common long-term illnesses in children. An average of one of every 10 school-aged children has asthma, and each year they miss 13 million school days. It is also the third-most common reason children under 15 go to the hospital. African Americans and Hispanics are impacted by asthma more than any other group.

What does this all mean?

An Asthma Action Plan (AAP) is recommended by the National Asthma Guidelines to help each family manage asthma at home. The key is to prevent asthma attacks by avoiding triggers. The AAP also describes what to do during an asthma episode and when to get emergency care. Each children's hospital should include five components into their AAP:

  • A provider orders the AAP.

  • The AAP needs to be in an easy to read format.

  • Asthma triggers for that patient need to be included on the AAP.

  • Written information with the AAP is given to the patient prior to leaving the hospital.

  • The patient's primary physician information should be on the AAP. 

Our goal is for 100 percent of all patients to have an AAP that contains all required information. Though we have not reached this goal, we have made great improvements since the beginning of 2009.