NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Watching 3-year-old Karma Taylor play, you might think there is nothing that slows her down. But like more than 6 million other children in the U.S., Karma has asthma, which used to get so bad, she often wound up in the emergency department.

“We’d go through breathing treatments here,” Karma’s mother, Joyce Kelso, told CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez. “They’d send us home with steroids, the prednisone, and she’d get better for a little bit. And then we’d be right back to the same cycle pretty much.”

That’s not uncommon. There are nearly 2 million visits to emergency departments each year for asthma, half involving children.

So researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital developed the Asthma Care app. It sends alerts when it’s time for patients to take their medicine, allows them to log times when breathing problems occur and even helps keep track of some environmental triggers.

“It’s hard for anybody to remember to take medications every day, especially when they’re feeling well, which is often the case with asthma,” said Dr. David Stukus of Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “So we thought that we would provide a reminder system.

“We actually have access to local pollen stations, so as long as they’re connected to Wi-Fi, whatever pollen-counting station is closest to them can give them up-to-date, accurate data regarding levels of outdoor tree or grass pollen or ragweed or things like that.”

The app also has an action plan to help patients through emergency situations. In a pilot study, patients used the app every day — and 81 percent of the time used it more than once. No patient who was given an action plan written on paper carried it with them. But everyone who had the app did, including Kelso.

“It’s changed our lives in the fact that my child’s not going to the ER constantly,” Kelso said. “She’s not having as severe of asthma attacks, and it’s kind of keeping me on top of her medicine.”

When Karma gets a little older, she’ll have her own smartphone with the Asthma Care app to remind her directly.

Patients can also send a copy of their symptoms diary to their doctors so they can discuss treatment options during office visits.

The app is free. To download it, visit http://www.nationwidechildrens.org/asthmacare.