Asthma: How to Overcome Treatment Obstacles


Adults with asthma

At times, you may find it hard to manage your asthma and stay with your treatment plan. If you're having trouble, it may help to figure out what's getting in your way. Then you can decide how to work around those barriers.

Here are some common barriers people face when following a plan and some ideas for dealing with the barriers.

  • "Maybe my asthma isn't all that serious. My symptoms are so mild that I don't feel I need treatment."
    • Learn all you can about asthma. Even if you have no symptoms, asthma can hurt your lungs. It can lead to worse symptoms later in life.
    • Understand both the benefits of treating asthma and the risks of not treating asthma.
  • "It's hard to talk about my plan with my doctor or pharmacist because they're so far away."
    • Work with others to ensure that you have transportation to your doctor and pharmacy. Or ask about setting up an online appointment with your doctor.
  • "It's hard for me to talk with my doctor or pharmacist because of language barriers."
    • If language is a problem, ask for translation services.
  • "I don't understand my plan or my medicines."
    • Work with your doctor to develop personal goals and expectations for your treatment.
    • If you don't understand something, ask about it.
  • "I just don't trust them."
    • If you don't feel comfortable with your doctor or pharmacist, think about looking for a new one.

Children with asthma

Often it's hard for a child to take asthma medicines and stay with a treatment plan. If your child is having trouble, it may help to figure out what's getting in the way. Then you can decide how to work around those barriers.

Here are some common barriers parents and children face when following a plan and some ideas for dealing with the barriers.

  • "I'm a single parent. I may not always be around to help my child take her medicine. My child sometimes has to take responsibility for her own treatment."
    • Talk to friends, neighbors, and school administrators about what they can do to help with your child's asthma.
    • Help your child understand what they can do on their own.
  • "My child has many caregivers. This makes it hard for my child to be on a regular schedule."
    • Print a calendar with your child's schedule and who is responsible on each day. Be sure to give a copy of the schedule to all caregivers.
    • Be proactive about calling other caregivers to be sure everyone understands what needs to be done.
    • Teach your child to be proactive in working with caregivers and understanding what to do for the condition.
  • "A shortage of school health professionals makes it hard to help my child remember to take medicine or to take it correctly."
    • Contact the school principal, other administrators, teachers, counselors, and coaches. Make sure they all understand that your child has asthma and how important it is to take the medicine.
    • If possible, find one person in the school who will see that your child takes the medicine.
    • Talk to your child's friends to see if they can help remind your child to take the medicine.
  • "Oral steroid syrup has a bitter taste, and my child will vomit or refuse the medicine."
    • Work with your doctor. There may be other brands or other medicines your child can take.
  • "I'm worried about the effect of inhaled steroid medicines on my child's growth or health."
    • For children, there may be a slight slowing in growth from inhaled steroids. The difference in height is very small. But for most people, this is made up for by being able to breathe better because of the positive effects of the medicine.
  • "My teen is embarrassed about having to take asthma medicine. He feels different from his friends and peers."
    • Help your child remember that asthma is only one part of life.
    • If possible, allow your child to meet with the doctor alone. This will encourage your child to become involved in their own care.
    • Work out a daily management plan that allows your child to keep doing daily activities, especially sports. Exercise is important to maintain strong lungs and overall health.
    • Encourage your child to meet others who have asthma so they can support each other.


Current as of: August 6, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

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