What Type of Asthma Doctor for a Child?

Know the Differences Between Each Type of Asthma Doctor

No matter which type of asthma doctor takes care of your child with asthma, your asthma doctor will work with you to diagnose and develop and prescribe a cost-effective treatment for your child's asthma. Your asthma doctor will not only provide recommendations for specific medications, but he will also provide recommendations on how to handle an asthma attack, avoid your child's asthma triggers, and develop an asthma action plan. Your asthma doctor and staff will also show you and your child how to appropriately use your child's asthma devices like an inhaler or peak flow meter.

No matter what type of asthma doctor you choose to care for your child's asthma, you need to consider several questions.

Pediatrician showing girl inhaler in examination room
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An allergist/immunologist specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic diseases like asthma. Specialists in this field receive initial training in pediatrics or internal medicine, both of which are 3-year residency programs. Once they are board-certified in either field, they will complete another 2-year fellowship training in allergic diseases.

An allergist can perform allergy testing to identify triggers of asthma. They can also recommend allergy immunotherapy as an option for treatment if necessary.

Family Practitioner

A family practitioner specializes in family medicine or family practice. These physicians provide general medical care, counseling, and problem-solving to both individuals or families and to both adults and kids.

After completing medical school, family practitioners complete a 3-year residency in family medicine. While your family practitioners will not specialize as an asthma doctor, asthma is a chronic medical condition cared for in primary care practices and your family practitioner should be comfortable in identifying symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of asthma. After residency, the doctor is eligible to practice family medicine. He can call himself a family practitioner after passing an examination sponsored by the American Board of Family Practice.


Med-Peds physicians specialize in both internal medicine (adult medicine) and pediatrics caring for adults, children, and infants. This is not a separate specialty; rather, these physicians are both general internists and general pediatricians. Like family practitioners, these physicians provide general medical care, counseling, and problem-solving to both individuals or families and to both adults and kids.

Med-Peds physicians complete 4 years of residency training after medical school in both internal medicine and pediatrics. Like family practitioners, med-peds physicians can not only serve as your child's asthma doctor but can also provide preventive care and treat chronic illnesses.

So how are family practitioners and med-peds physicians different? Family practitioners receive formal training in obstetrics, gynecology, and surgical procedures that med-peds do not. On the other hand, med-peds physicians receive more training in pediatrics and more specialized training in hospital medicine and care of diseases specific to internal organs.

Med-Peds physicians can become board certified by both the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Pediatrics.


A pediatrician is a physician who provides both preventive health care for healthy children as well as medical care for both acutely or chronically ill kids.

After medical school, pediatricians spend 3 years in a pediatric residency learning about preventive, acute, and chronic illness from birth until young adulthood. Like other types of doctors discussed, pediatricians can serve as your child's asthma doctor as well as taking care of a number of other medical problems.

Pediatricians can become board certified after completing an examination sponsored by the American Board of Pediatrics.

Pediatric Pulmonologist

A pediatric pulmonologist completes 4 years of medical school, a 3-year residency in general pediatrics, and then a 3-year fellowship in pediatric pulmonology. After completing the pediatric pulmonology fellowship, the doctor is board eligible in pediatric pulmonology and can call himself a board-certified pediatric pulmonologist after passing an examination sponsored by the American Board of Pediatrics.

In addition to serving as your child's asthma doctor, pediatric pulmonologists take care of a number of other respiratory problems such as chronic cough and cystic fibrosis.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses (RN) who complete additional education and training and typically specialize in an area such as family practice or pediatrics. While the path to become a registered nurse varies, most nurse practitioner programs require RNs to have some experience and then complete a master's level program. After completion of the clinical and classroom requirements, nurse practitioners are eligible to become certified as a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (CPNP) or Certified Family Nurse Practitioner (CFNP).

Nurse practitioners can serve as a child's asthma doctor as well as taking care of a number of other medical problems. Some nurse practitioners can practice independently, while others must practice under the supervision of a physician. This is regulated by individual states and their respective medical boards.

Both pediatric and family practice nurse practitioners can provide regular health care for kids.

Is One Type of Doctor Better For My Asthma?

This is a complicated question and not all the types of asthma doctors discussed here have been compared. However, there do appear to be some differences in quality of care related to the specialty of an asthma doctor.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. What Is an Allergist
  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. What Is a Nurse Practioner?
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. What Is a Pediatric Pulmonologist
  • Consumer Information- University of Maryland.What is a Pediatrician?

By Pat Bass, MD
Dr. Bass is a board-certified internist, pediatrician, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Physicians.