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Q: My child has asthma. When should we consider using a preventative medication, and are there any health risks from long-term use?

For some people, a rescue medication like albuterol is enough to manage asthma symptoms. If your child is having to use rescue medication more than twice a week, it might be time to talk with your doctor about putting them on a preventative medication that they take every day.

One of the most common types of asthma preventers is a daily inhaled steroid. Some parents worry that taking a steroid could affect their child's growth. There have been many studies that show that, at low dose, these types of medications are safe, and have no significant affect on the child's eventual height. It's also good to remember that they don't have the same effects as oral steroids. Most doctors will try to decrease the dose amount over time if the medication seems to be achieving the desired result of controlling symptoms.

Some kids' asthma is triggered by allergies, so taking allergy medication may be another option for controlling symptoms long-term.

Linda M. Teter, MD

Family practice

Kihei Wailea Medical Center
221 Pi'ikea Ave., Suite A
Kihei, HI 96753