Provider News

Managing Childhood Asthma: New Algorithm

October 4, 2023

A new asthma algorithm from our Pulmonary Division offers assistance with the initial diagnosis and management of asthma in a primary care setting.

About the algorithm

The algorithm starts with the point at which a patient is first seen in a primary care office for symptoms that may be asthma and walks the provider through the history, physical exam and diagnostic workup required to make a diagnosis (page 1, left side).

After a diagnosis of asthma is made, the algorithm details the steps involved in the initial management of asthma, which is much more than just medications. Comprehensive asthma care also includes an assessment of the child’s environment, addressing comorbidities that can aggravate asthma symptoms, providing patient and family education and ensuring protection with immunizations (page 1, right side).

Regarding medications for the management of asthma, the algorithm doesn’t dive into details of specific treatments, but instead points providers to already existing resources on page 2 under References. These are broken down by age group.

The algorithm also includes:

  • When to refer to Pulmonary (page 1, bottom-right corner)
  • Differential diagnosis of asthma (page 2, Box 1)
  • Potential environmental asthma triggers (page 2, Box 2)
  • Links to additional asthma resources from Seattle Children’s (for families) (page 2, Box 3)

This new resource from our Pulmonary team tackles a significant part of asthma management in the PCP office. “Diagnosis of asthma is possible to do in the primary care setting so we’re trying to give providers the tools to do that if they feel comfortable,” says Seattle Children’s pulmonologist Mary Crocker, MD, MPH, who authored the algorithm.

We welcome your feedback. Please contact

If you have a specific question about patient management or workup prior to referring to Pulmonary, or if you are wondering whether it is appropriate to refer your patient, you may call the Provider-to-Provider Line at 206-987-7777 and ask for the pulmonary specialist on-call.

Asthma resources for patients and families: