A new study published today reveals that, much to a parent’s chagrin, children often know better than their parents – at least when it comes to the child’s asthma experience.

The study, which was released in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, analyzed how much children with asthma and their caregivers agree on the child’s quality of life in relation to the child’s asthma.

Results show that though the children and their caregivers are in agreement about emotional function and overall quality of life, they disagree on how the child feels about how much their activities are limited. Overall, the children are more optimistic about their own activities limited by asthma than their caregivers are.

There were 79 patients aged 5-17 years who, along with their caregiver, completed an Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire for the study.

“Our research shows that physicians should ask parents and children about the effects asthma is having on the child’s daily life,” says Dr. Margaret Burks, the lead study author. “Parents can often think symptoms are better or worse than what the child is really experiencing, especially if they are not with their children all day.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 7 million children in the US – 9.5% of children – suffer from asthma.

Although the recent study acknowledges that caregivers do contribute helpful information about their child’s asthma condition, it stresses that allergists should also speak to the child directly.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) has put together the following list of five topics that children and caregivers should discuss with an allergist:

1. “Asthma prevents me from playing sports and taking part in other activities”

If your child cannot play sports or participate in gym class and recess activities, it’s important they tell their allergist. This can be an indication their asthma isn’t properly controlled. If they can participate in activities, it is also important they tell their allergist, to show their condition is being well managed.

2. “When I am outside or at home my asthma symptoms become worse”

An estimated 60 to 80 percent of children with asthma also have an allergy. If almost inescapable allergens, such as pollen, mold, dust and pet dander are triggering your child’s asthma symptoms, an allergist may include immunotherapy (allergy shots) as part of a treatment plan.

3. “I often feel sad or different from other kids because I have asthma”

Nearly half of children with asthma report feeling depressed or left out of activities due to their condition. Anyone with asthma should be able to feel good and be active. No one should accept less.

4. “There have been times I have missed school because of my condition”

Asthma is the most common chronic illness in childhood and is a leading cause of missed school days. Research shows children under the care of a board-certified allergist see a 77% reduction in lost time from school.

5. “My asthma disappeared”

It is important your child carry and use their inhaler as prescribed, even if symptoms aren’t bothersome. While asthma symptoms are controllable with the proper treatment, there isn’t a cure for asthma and it likely won’t disappear. An asthma attack can strike at any time.

Dr. James Sublett, chair of the ACAAI public relations committee, adds that in order to avoid over- or under-treatment of asthma in children, it is important for the children themselves to tell the doctor about their symptoms.

Though many parents worry about children who have asthma, this study shows that in many cases, they’re not having such a hard time coping with it after all.

Written by Marie Ellis