What Is Childhood Asthma
If your child has asthma, their lungs and airways can easily get inflamed when they have a cold or are around things like pollen. The symptoms may make it hard for your child to do everyday activities or sleep. Sometimes, an asthma attack can result in a trip to the hospital.
Thereâs no cure for asthma in children, but you can work with your childâs doctor to treat it and prevent damage to their growing lungs.
Make Sure Your Child’s Environment Is Smoke
Make sure your child’s environment is smoke-free, wherever they happen to be. Asthma increases in children whose parents smoke. Tobacco smoke also triggers asthma attacks and makes a child’s asthma more severe than it would otherwise be. Many environmental factors contribute to asthma cigarette smoke is one that you can avoid.
If you want to give up smoking:
Spacers And Asthma Medication
For all people with asthma, it is recommended that a spacer device is used when asthma medication is delivered via a puffer . A spacer is a specially designed container that attaches to a puffer and has its own mouthpiece to breathe through.
Using a spacer helps the medication to go where it is supposed to into the small airways in the lungs rather than ending up coating your childs mouth, tongue and throat. It is much more effective than using a puffer on its own. Using a spacer with a puffer can reduce or prevent side effects from inhaled medication.
Babies and young children may need a spacer with a special face mask attached to inhale asthma medicines effectively. These fit tightly around your childs mouth and nose to make sure none of the medicine leaks out. Talk to your pharmacist for advice and to have your technique checked.
Watch this Asthma Australia video which shows you how to use a spacer with a face mask.
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What Is Asthma Most People Associate Asthma With Sudden Fits Of Coughing And Wheezing But The Disease Is Actually Present 24 Hours A
What is asthma?
Most people associate asthma with sudden fits of coughing and wheezing, but the disease is actually present 24 hours a day. If your teenager has asthma, the tubes that carry air to her lungs are inflamed and may be swollen and clogged with mucus. This state may not impair her breathing, but it does set the stage for asthma attacks. Her inflamed airway is extra sensitive, and something as seemingly harmless as dust, cold air, or exercise can cause the muscles lining the airway to suddenly squeeze tight, leaving little room for air to pass.
How can I tell if my teenager has asthma?
Asthmas symptoms can mimic those of pneumonia, bronchitis, allergies, or even a cold, so its not always clear. Wheezing and coughing are the most common symptoms of an asthma attack, but other signs tightness in the chest or shortness of breath are also indications of asthma. If your teens symptoms keep him from sleeping through the night or if they interfere with his normal activities, he could have asthma. You should have a doctor examine your child to determine whether or not he has it, and if he does how severely the disease affects his lungs. Keep in mind that many teens with asthma also have allergies if your teen suffers from hay fever or other allergic reactions, take any sign of asthma seriously. Also, since colds and other respiratory infections often lead to attacks, you should suspect asthma if your teen keeps coughing long after an illness has faded.
Treating Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Children with obvious symptoms of reflux or children who have difficulty managing asthma may consider the following lifestyle changes:
- Avoiding heavy meals and meals with fried food.
- Avoiding caffeine products , garlic, and onions.
- Avoiding eating or drinking at least 3 hours before bedtime.
- Elevating the head of the bed by 6 inches.
- Medications are available for treating gastroesophageal reflux but should be discussed with your child’s doctor. The use of PPI drugs to improve asthma symptoms is controversial. Studies indicate that these drugs do not help with asthma symptoms.
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Risk Factors For Asthma
Doctors do not completely understand why some children develop asthma, but a number of risk factors are recognized:
Inherited and prenatal factors
Most children who are having an asthma attack and 90% of children who have been hospitalized for asthma have a viral infection . Children who have bronchiolitis Bronchiolitis Bronchiolitis is a viral infection that affects the lower respiratory tract of infants and young children under 24 months of age. Bronchiolitis usually is caused by viruses. Symptoms include… read more at an early age often wheeze with subsequent viral infections. The wheezing may at first be interpreted as asthma, but these children are no more likely than others to have asthma during adolescence.
Diet may be a risk factor. Children who do not consume enough of vitamins C and E and omega-3 fatty acids or who are obese may be at higher risk of asthma.
Does Your Child Have Any Of These Symptoms
Wheezing and/or Chest TightnessSometimes this takes place only with exercise or with a cold.
A young child who has frequent wheezing with colds or respiratory infections is more likely to have asthma if:
- A parent has asthma.
- The child shows signs of allergies, including the allergic skin condition eczema.
- The child wheezes even when he or she doesn’t have a cold or other infection.
Frequent CoughMay be more common at night, and the child may or may not cough up mucus. You may notice your child is tired during the day, possibly due to lack of sleep.
Shortness of BreathThis is a feeling of not getting enough air into the lungs. It may occur only once in a while, or often. Shortness of breath can feel like tiredness or a decreased ability to do normal activities. Young children who are not yet verbal may experience feeding problems with shortness of breath while older children may describe tiredness, fatigue or just not being able to keep up with other kids their age.
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How Is Asthma Diagnosed
To diagnose asthma, a doctor will do a physical exam and ask about the person’s medical history, including whether anyone else in the family has asthma.
The doctor might do tests like spirometry or peak flow meter tests. These involve blowing into devices that can measure how well the lungs are working. Allergy tests or exercise tests can tell doctors if asthma is brought on by allergens or physical activity. Doctors may use X-rays to rule out other problems.
S For Treating Asthma
A stepwise approach is recommended for treating asthma. Medications and dosages are increased when needed, and decreased when possible. Based on a patient’s age and asthma severity, there are specific recommendations regarding whether to use long-term control medications and which ones to use. Patient education, environmental control measures, and management of any other conditions are also included.
In choosing therapy, doctors also consider a patient’s risk for more severe exacerbations. Contributing factors include parental history of asthma, atopic dermatitis, and known sensitivity to different allergens or foods. Patients should be reevaluated within 2 to 6 weeks of starting therapy to assess response.
While medications play an essential role in the management of asthma, appropriate management of asthma also involves:
- Working with your child’s doctor to develop a written Asthma Action Plan that addresses daily maintenance treatment, rescue medications, and what to do if asthma worsens
- Making sure the Asthma Action Plan is on file at your child’s daycare, school, and extracurricular activities
- Identifying and avoiding allergens and other asthma triggers, and controlling allergens in the home environment
- Home monitoring, including the use of a peak flow meter
- Communicating regularly with your child’s doctor
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Know The Asthma Symptoms In Children
Asthma affects as many as 10% to 12% of children in the United States and is the leading cause of chronic illness in children. For unknown reasons, the incidence of asthma in children is steadily increasing. While asthma symptoms can begin at any age, most children have their first asthma symptoms by age 5.
For more detail, see WebMDâs Asthma in Children.
What To Expect When You Visit The Doctor
Your doctor may ask whether you have any family history of asthma, eczema or hay fever.
In children, doctors assess the severity of the asthma based on the pattern and frequency of the symptoms.
Lung function tests are difficult to perform in children younger than 5 years and so are usually only used to diagnose and assess severity in children 5 years and older.
It is recommended that a paediatrician or paediatric respiratory specialist diagnose and manage asthma in infants under 12 months. If your infant is wheezing your doctor should refer to you one of these specialists.
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Care Advice For Asthma Attack
Why Do Some Children Have Asthma
One in 4 children in New Zealand will have asthma at some time during childhood.
It is not clear why some children have asthma when others do not.
Asthma in children is more likely if:
- a mother smoked during pregnancy
- a child has eczema, hay fever or allergies
- there is asthma in the family – parent, brother or sister
- one or both parents have an allergic condition such as asthma, hay fever or eczema
Modern Western lifestyle may play a part in the rise in asthma that has happened over the last few decades. Changes in housing, diet and a more hygienic environment may contribute. Outdoor environmental pollution may make asthma symptoms worse but it does not actually cause asthma. Experts continue to study the reasons for the increase in asthma.
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Preventing And Treating Respiratory Infections
Respiratory infections, including the common cold, can interact with allergies to worsen asthma. People with asthma should try to minimize their risk for respiratory tract infections. Using alcohol-based hand rubs and washing hands are simple but effective preventive measures. Vaccines are also very important for prevention.
Treating Allergies And Sinusitis
Patients with asthma and chronic allergic rhinitis may need daily medications. Patients with severe seasonal allergies may need to start taking medications a few weeks before the pollen season, and to continue them until the season is over.
Immunotherapy may help reduce asthma symptoms, and the use of asthma medications, in patients with known allergies. They may also help prevent the development of asthma in children with allergies. Immunotherapy poses some risk for severe allergic reactions, especially for children with poorly controlled asthma, so it is important that the doctor carefully evaluates the child’s asthma condition.
The latest guidelines indicate that immunotherapy injections for treatment of allergies are safe for young children.
Researchers are studying an oral form of immunotherapy that uses a sublingual tablet. Some, but not all, sublingual tablets are approved for children older than 10 years. Recent studies indicate that sublingual therapy may be helpful for asthma. However, questions still remain including dosage and duration of treatment. Sublingual therapy has recently been FDA-approved for allergic rhinitis. At this time, sublingual immunotherapy is not approved or recommended for asthma treatment in the United States.
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Know About Unusual Asthma Symptoms
Not everyone with asthma has the usual symptoms of cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Sometimes individuals have unusual asthma symptoms that may not appear to be related to asthma. Some “unusual” asthma symptoms may include the following:
- rapid breathing
- difficulty sleeping or nighttime asthma
- chronic cough without wheezing
Also, asthma symptoms can be mimicked by other conditions such as bronchitis, vocal cord dysfunction, and even heart failure.
It’s important to understand your body. Talk with your asthma doctor and others with asthma. Be aware that asthma may not always have the same symptoms in every person.
For more detail, see WebMDâs article Unusual Asthma Symptoms.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Asthma In Children
Signs and symptoms of asthma in children include:
- Frequent coughing spells, which may occur while the child is playing, laughing, or at night or right after waking. Coughing may be the only symptom.
- Less energy during play.
- Complaint of chest tightness or the chest “hurting.”
- Whistling sound when the child is breathing in or out.
- Retractions in the chest from difficulty breathing.
- Shortness of breath or loss of breath.
- Tightened neck and chest muscles.
- Feelings of weakness or tiredness.
Not all children have the same asthma symptoms. Symptoms can vary from episode to episode in the same child. In addition, not all wheezing or coughing is caused by asthma.
If your child has problems breathing, take him or her to the pediatrician for an evaluation. Your child may be referred to a specialist, such as a pediatric pulmonary provider or a pediatric allergist.
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Symptoms Of Asthmawhat Happens During An Asthma Attack
Your child may have some or all of these symptoms. These symptoms might be mild or very severe in an asthma attack. Learn to recognize your childs symptoms. Quick management of symptoms will make the attack less severe.
Symptoms are what you feel in your body. The symptoms of asthma are different for every child, but here are some common symptoms of asthma that your child may experience:
- Coughing: Your childs cough might be worse at night or after exercise. Coughing may be the only asthma symptom your child experiences.
- Shortness of breath: Your child might say they cant catch their breath or they feel out of breath, like they cant get enough air out of their lungs. They might have trouble saying more than a few words at a time.
- Wheezing: A whistling or squeaky sound when your child breathes.
- Tightness in the chest: Your child might feel as if someone is squeezing or sitting on their chest.
Find Out What Is Happening Inside Your Lungs
Millions of teenagers around the world have asthma some think it is embarrassing some try ignoring it, hoping it will go away some are concerned about living with asthma for the rest of their lives. You know best how you feel about having asthma. Getting short of breath or wheezing and having to use a puffer is a real pain. Another pain has to be avoiding all kinds of things you enjoy because they might trigger your asthma symptoms. The point is, you need to know all this stuff about asthma so YOU can be in control.
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How Do I Prevent My Child From Having Asthma Attacks
Preventers help prevent asthma.
Not all children need preventer medicine. If your child is getting wheezy more than once a week, your family doctor may suggest a preventer medicine. Your child needs to take their asthma preventer every day, sometimes twice a day, even when they are well. Most asthma preventers are inhalers that you need to use a spacer with. Sometimes, your doctor may give you a preventer that is a tablet.
Treatment Of Asthma In Children
For acute attacks, bronchodilators and sometimes corticosteroids
For chronic asthma, inhaled corticosteroids and possibly leukotriene modifiers and/or cromolyn
Treatment is given to resolve sudden attacks and sometimes to prevent attacks.
Children who have mild, very infrequent attacks usually take drugs only during an attack. Children who have more frequent or severe attacks also need to take drugs even when they are not having attacks. Different drugs are used depending on the frequency and severity of the attacks. Children with infrequent attacks that are not very severe usually take a low dose of an inhaled corticosteroid or a leukotriene modifier every day to help prevent attacks. These drugs reduce inflammation by blocking the release of the chemical substances that inflame the airways.
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