Children using inhalers with spacers

Your child’s inhalers and medicines

Your child’s medicines help relieve symptoms and cut the risk of asthma attacks.

Your child’s asthma inhalers and medicines

This section will answer questions you may have about your child’s asthma medicines: how they work, the best way for your child to take them, and how to deal with any concerns you have so you feel more confident.

Whatever asthma medicine(s) your doctor prescribes for you or your child, it's important that you play your part in helping them to work by making sure your child takes them in the right dose, in the right way, at the right time(s).

Common concerns about your child’s asthma medicines 

Any worries or unanswered questions you have about your child’s asthma medicines might mean you’re less likely to want to give them to your child. But your child’s asthma medicines can’t work to protect them against symptoms and asthma attacks unless they take them. So here we address your most common concerns to help give you peace of mind...

You can also speak to an experienced asthma nurse specialist on 0300 222 5800 (Mon-Fri; 9am-5pm). 

How is asthma treated in children? 

GPs, asthma nurses and specialist consultants prescribe asthma treatments for children based on clinical guidelines for asthma care, which take into account the very latest clinical evidence.  

Inhalers and spacers 

Your child’s GP or asthma nurse will prescribe the right medicines for your child’s individual asthma symptoms and needs. Most children will be given a reliever inhaler to use when they get symptoms, and a preventer inhaler to take every day as prescribed. To make sure enough asthma medicine is getting to their airways children often need to use a device called a spacer with their inhaler. Read about them all here. 


Help your child use their inhalers

The asthma medicines your child has been prescribed can't work properly unless they take them correctly. This easy-to-follow step-by-step guide will help you make sure your child uses their inhalers in the right way.

Steroid tablets 

We know from the calls we get to our helpline that many parents worry about giving their child steroid tablets, even though these are only prescribed if they’re getting lots of symptoms or a child has had an asthma attack. The information in this section is designed to reassure you by answering common questions about steroid tablets: how they work, why your child may need to take them and how to deal with any potential side effects.

Other medicines and treatments 

Some children with asthma might be prescribed extra treatments known as ‘add-on treatments’ as well as their usual inhalers. Common ones include treatments for hay fever, and medicines known as leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs), theophylline, or long-acting reliever inhalers. There’s a useful round-up of asthma treatments here. 

Specialist treatments 

Sometimes children may be given reliever medicine through a nebuliser - a machine that changes liquid medicine into a fine mist. This is usually if they’re having a serious asthma attack in an ambulance or in hospital, for example. You can read about nebulisers in this section.

Last updated January 2018
Next review due January 2021