Asthma Emergencies In Children
Symptoms of an asthma attack can worsen and develop into an asthma emergency. To prepare for an asthma emergency, make sure your childs doctor has written an asthma action plan for your child.
Have a copy of your childs asthma action plan pinned up somewhere easy to access at home, and send a copy to anyone who cares for your child, including their school, kinder, childcare service, family members and friends. You may like to take a photo of their asthma action plan so you always have a copy with you.
How Do You Monitor Asthma Symptoms
Monitoring your asthma symptoms is an essential piece of managing the disease. Your healthcare provider may have you use a peak flow meter. This device measures how fast you can blow air out of your lungs. It can help your provider make adjustments to your medication. It also tells you if your symptoms are getting worse.
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Your treatment should be flexible and based on changes in your symptoms. Your doctor should ask about your symptoms at each visit. Based on your signs and symptoms, your doctor can adjust your treatment accordingly.
For example, if your asthma is well controlled, your doctor may prescribe less medication. If your asthma isn’t well controlled or is getting worse, your doctor may increase your medication and recommend more-frequent visits.
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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.
General Questions About Asthma:
What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the lining of the airways of the lungs, which makes these airways contract easily. As a result, a person with asthma can experience difficulty breathing and often requires long-term treatment to control this inflammation. You can learn more about asthma here.
Can asthma can cured?
What is airway remodelling?
Airway remodelling may occur when asthma is not treated or controlled effectively as long term airway inflammation may result in permanent changes in the airways. The actual structure of your airway walls can change causing blockage that cant be completely reversed with treatment.
Asthma is defined as a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways and is characterized by reversible airway obstruction. Irreversible airway obstruction may develop due to the alterations in airway structure that occur with airway remodeling.
Airway remodelling may be, at least somewhat, reversible and preventable. The number of asthma attacks has been associated with greater decline in lung function and a higher risk of airway remodeling. Treatments for asthma may play a significant role by reducing asthma exacerbations resulting in preventing the decline in lung function and airway remodeling. It is extremely important for you to learn how and why your medications work.
Why is my asthma worse at night?
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Treatment And Medication Options For Asthma
There is no cure for asthma, but you can alleviate and prevent your symptoms through quick-relief and long-term control medication. Long-term control medication works to reduce inflammation to make your airways less sensitive to asthma triggers. Its usually taken daily through an inhaler or as an oral pill. Quick-relief medicines help to relieve symptoms when they happen, relaxing the tight muscles around your airways and easing the flow of air.
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The updated guidelines also recommend a type of drug called a long-acting muscarinic antagonist to improve symptoms for these age groups. And for young children who wheeze only when they have a respiratory tract infection , the new guidelines recommend a short course of inhaled corticosteroids plus a rescue inhaler as needed. This can prevent worsening of breathing problems and forestall the need for corticosteroid pills.
Most asthma medications are breathed in through the use of an inhaler or nebulizer. There are two main types of inhalers a metered dose inhaler , which uses a pressurized medicine-filled canister, and a dry powder inhaler , containing medicine in powdered form. A nebulizer uses a mask and delivers medication as a mist. Its important to learn the different techniques for using these devices to ensure the medicine reaches your lungs.
There are few evidence-backed natural remedies for asthma, particularly if your case is severe. But lifestyle changes, like controlling stress, and some complementary therapies, like acupuncture, may help manage symptoms.
What Asthma Treatment Options Are There
You have options to help manage your asthma. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to control symptoms. These include:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines: These medicines reduce swelling and mucus production in your airways. They make it easier for air to enter and exit your lungs. Your healthcare provider may prescribe them to take every day to control or prevent your symptoms.
- Bronchodilators: These medicines relax the muscles around your airways. The relaxed muscles let the airways move air. They also let mucus move more easily through the airways. These medicines relieve your symptoms when they happen.
- Biologic therapies for asthma when symptoms persist despite being on proper inhaler therapy.
You can take asthma medicines in several different ways. You may breathe in the medicines using a metered-dose inhaler, nebulizer or other inhaler. Your healthcare provider may prescribe oral medications that you swallow.
Asthma Action Plans For Children
An asthma action planis a clear written summary of instructions for when your childs asthma symptoms change. Everyone with asthma should have a personalised asthma action plan written by their doctor.
Your childs asthma action plan will tell you:
- how to recognise when your childs asthma is getting worse or an attack is developing, and the steps you should take to manage it
- symptoms that are serious, indicating a need for urgent medical help
- your childs asthma triggers.
Make sure you understand and can follow the asthma action plan from your doctor.
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Questions About Medication And Asthma:
Can allergy medicines help my asthma?
Perhaps. Doctors use antihistamines, decongestants, non-steroidal and corticosteroidal medications to manage allergic reactions . If the allergic reaction is in the airway, corticosteroids are used to reduce the inflammation. If nasal symptoms are present, then antihistamines, decongestants and nasal steroid sprays may be prescribed. Keeping the nasal passages clear allows you to breath through your nose, which helps filter, warm and humidify the air you breathe into your lungs. Proper management of rhinitis often improves asthma control.
I’m pregnant. Should I stop taking my asthma medication?
No. Poorly controlled asthma is a much greater risk to your baby. Remember, youre breathing for two.
Most asthma medicationis generally safe to take during pregnancy but, as always, you should be taking the lowest amount of medication that controls your asthma. Discuss any concerns with your doctor he or she can explain the risks and benefits in greater detail. Keep in mind that when youre pregnant, its more important than ever to avoid your personal asthma triggers as well as any source of tobacco smoke.
I’m feeling better. Can I stop taking my medication?
Never stop taking your medication unless your doctor tells you to. If you stop taking your medication against your doctors advice, you may make your asthma worse.
Can I become dependent on, or addicted to, my asthma medication?
Keep A Diary Of Your Childs Symptoms
Keep a diary of symptoms to discuss with your doctor. The diary could include:
- a video or audio recording of the wheezing you could use your mobile phone
- when the symptoms occur such as during the day or worse at night
- how bad the symptoms are and how often they happen
- how long the symptoms remain and whether they change with time
- whether the symptoms are worse after exercise, playing or after an infection
- whether the symptoms are worse after exposure to animals, pollens or mould.
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What Types Of Asthma Are There
Healthcare providers identify asthma as intermittent or persistent . Persistent asthma can be mild, moderate or severe. Healthcare providers base asthma severity on how often you have attacks. They also consider how well you can do things during an attack.
Asthma can be:
- Allergic: Some peoples allergies can cause an asthma attack. Molds, pollens and other allergens can cause an attack.
- Non-allergic: Outside factors can cause asthma to flare up. Exercise, stress, illness and weather may cause a flare.
What Triggers An Asthma Attack
Numerous triggers can cause asthma attacks, including:
Tobacco smoke While smoking is unhealthy for anyone, its particularly dangerous for people with asthma. If you smoke, you should quit.
Secondhand smoke can also trigger an asthma attack. Avoid situations in which people around you smoke. Also don’t let people smoke in a place where you spend a lot of time, such as your home or car even if you’re not present when they smoke.
Smoke from wood or grass Even though it may seem natural, smoke from these sources contains harmful gases and particles.
Avoid burning wood in your home. If you live in an area where wildfires occur, monitor air quality forecasts and try to stay inside when particle levels are at their worst.
Outdoor air pollution
Certain foods and food additives While almost any food can cause an allergic reaction, a few additives are widely believed to cause adverse reactions in some people.
Acid reflux can also trigger an asthma attack in some people, so any food that aggravates this condition may also be responsible for symptoms.
Strong emotional statesCertain medications
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Will I Always Have Asthma
Asthma is a lifelong condition most people who have asthma will always have asthma.
But if youve been diagnosed with asthma as a child, your asthma might improve or disappear completely as you get older, particularly if the asthma was mild.
Even if asthma goes away it can come back later in life, perhaps because youve come into contact with new triggers in your job, or youve moved to an area with more air pollution for example. Hormonal changes such as pregnancy and menopause can also bring it on again.
But the good news is that even though asthma doesnt go away there are lots of safe and effective treatments available to help you stay symptom-free.
If youve tried taking all the usual treatments in the right way, but youre still having symptoms, your GP can refer you to a specialist to see if you have severe asthma. This kind of asthma only affects around 4% of all people with asthma. An asthma specialist can help you find the right treatments for you, for example monoclonal antibodies.
Who Gets Asthma
In the UK, around 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma. That’s one in every 12 adults and one in every 11 children.
Asthma affects more boys than girls. Asthma in adults is more common in women than men.
It tends to run in families, especially when there’s also a history of allergies and/or smoking.
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What You Can Do
These steps can help you make the most of your appointment:
- Write down any symptoms you’re having, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Note when your symptoms bother you most. For example, write down if your symptoms tend to get worse at certain times of the day, during certain seasons, or when you’re exposed to cold air, pollen or other triggers.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins and supplements that you’re taking.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to recall all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For asthma, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Is asthma the most likely cause of my breathing problems?
- Other than the most likely cause, what are other possible causes for my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What’s the best treatment?
What Changes Inside The Airway Of Lungs Lead To An Asthma Attack
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Asthma Patterns In Children
Every childs asthma is different. Some children have mild, occasional episodes of asthma or only show symptoms after exercising, or when they have a cold. Some experience daily symptoms, while others have symptoms continuously, which limit their level of activity.
Each pattern of asthma requires a different treatment approach. It is important to remember that children can still have a severe and even life-threatening attack, even if they generally have mild or occasional asthma.
Can Asthma Get Worse At Different Times In My Life
There are certain stages in your life that might affect your asthma. For example, some women find that being pregnant can make asthma either better or worse and hormonal changes, at puberty, menopause or during the menstrual cycle might have an impact too.
There are lots of other life changes that might temporarily affect your asthma symptoms. Stress, for example, whether from a relationship breakdown or family illness, can make symptoms worse.
Having frequent asthma attacks can also make asthma worse over time. Asthma attacks can cause scarring in your airways which makes them narrower. This is sometimes called airway remodelling.
If your airways are scarred and narrow, youre more likely to have worse symptoms more often.
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Preparing For An Appointment
You’re likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred to an allergist or a pulmonologist.
Because appointments can be brief, and because there’s often a lot of ground to cover, it’s a good idea to be well prepared. Here’s some information to help you get ready for your appointment, as well as what to expect from your doctor.
Describe How Changes Inside The Airways In The Lungs Lead To An Asthma Attack
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Does Asthma Cause Permanent Damage
The airway obstruction of asthma is generally completely reversible and usually does not cause permanent damage to the lungs, heart, or other organs. However, severe acute episodes of asthma can be associated with life threatening events and even fatalities. Survival of severe life threatening events can be associated with damage from lack of oxygen during the severe exacerbation, and lack of oxygen to the brain can cause loss of consciousness and brain damage.
Chronic asthma with ongoing airway inflammation may also be associated with what is called “remodeling” of the airways. This describes permanent changes occurring in the tissues surrounding the airways that results in permanent narrowing of airways. The potential for this emphasizes the importance of monitoring pulmonary function in patients with asthma at regular intervals, particularly those with a chronic pattern of asthma.
Treatment For Asthma Emergencies In Children
An asthma attack can quickly become an asthma emergency, but if you take quick action, you can reduce the risk of this happening. So, if the symptoms of an asthma attack appear, follow your childs asthma action plan.
If your child is experiencing a severe or life-threatening asthma attack, call triple zero for an ambulance and then start asthma first aid.:
- Sit the child upright.
- Give 4 puffs of reliever medication , taking 4 breaths for each puff. Use a spacer and mask if one is available.
- Wait 4 minutes if the child still cannot breathe normally, give 4 more puffs.
- Continue to give 4 separate puffs of reliever medication, taking 4 breaths for each puff, every 4 minutes until the ambulance arrives.
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