“Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways, characterized by recurrent, reversible, airway obstruction. Airway inflammation leads to airway hyper reactivity, which causes the airways to narrow in response to various stimuli, including allergens, exercise and cold air.” (Alan Szeftel, MD, FCCP)
Asthma in children
Asthma is a common chronic medical condition in children. There are approximately 15-20 million asthmatics in India and children between the ages of 5 to 11 years constitute 10 to 15% of this estimate. Its prevalence is increasing. It can show up at any age, and most children have their first symptoms of asthma by the age of 5.
The risk factors for developing asthma in children are:
- Nasal allergies
- A family history of asthma
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Low birth weight
- Exposure to tobacco smoke before or after birth
- Being raised in a low-income environment
No one knows the exact reasons why asthma in children is becoming more frequent. According to some experts spending too much time indoors and because of being frequently exposed to dust, air pollution, and second-hand smoke when outdoors is the reason for children to develop asthma in large.
Symptoms of Asthma in Children
The symptoms of asthma are slightly different in each and every child. The symptoms can vary from time to time in the same child.
Some children show only few noticeable symptoms but have severe asthma attacks at times while others have chronic mild symptoms that get worse with physical activities or other seasonal allergies.
In an infant: asthma in children is characterized by slow feeding or shortness of breath during feeding.
In a toddler: asthma in children is characterized by a decreased desire to physical activities due to breathlessness. The toddler may get exhausted easily and start coughing when exercising.
For children under age 5: asthma attacks are prompted or worsened by cold or other respiratory infections. The child’s cold lasts longer than other children or is doubled up with frequent coughing which gets worse at night.
The most common symptoms of asthma in children are wheezing and coughing. Other common symptoms of asthma in children include:
- Frequent coughing spells
- Less energy
- Rapid breathing
- Chest tightness or hurting of the chest
- Whistling sound when breathing in or out
- Retractions due to laboured breathing
- Loss of breath
- Tightened neck and chest muscles
- Weakness or tiredness
- Poor exercise endurance
Symptoms often get worse with exertion or at the night. The respiratory rate often increases and may require accessory muscles to breath. Upper respiratory infections often worsen symptoms of asthma in children. Symptoms of asthma in children can also be influenced seasonal variation due to environmental allergies. Active or passive smoking not only aggravates the symptoms but also complicates the control of asthma. Children suffering from asthma often suffer from bronchitis or even a croup & cough.
How to Treat Asthma in Children?
The goals for the treatment of asthma in children are to
- Control symptoms of asthma
- Minimize the risk of future aggravations
- Maintaining normal functioning of lungs
- Maintaining normal levels of activity
- Use the least amount of medication with the least amount of potential side effects
Most important question is, how to treat asthma in children. The most effective anti-inflammatory agents available for chronic treatment of asthma are the inhaled corticosteroids. They are very effective in reducing the risk of asthma exacerbations. Moreover, a long-acting bronchodilator combined with an inhaled corticosteroid has a significant on asthma control.
How to treat asthma momentarily?
There are times when it becomes urgent to control asthma before taking your child to the doctor. Here is how to treat asthma temporarily, yet promptly. Short-acting bronchodilators provide immediate relief from asthma attacks.
Although these medications have a prompt effect, they are temporary. They cannot cure asthma in children. If the symptoms are severe, the child needs long-term control medication. Frequent use of a quick-relief inhaler to control symptoms is a sign that your child needs to consult a doctor since he or she is under a risk of severe asthma attack.
Immunotherapy for allergy-induced asthma
Allergy-desensitization shots or immunotherapy is necessary for the treatment of allergic asthma in children. A series of skin tests are done in order to identify the allergens that are prompting the asthma symptoms.
Once the asthma triggers are identified, the child is treated with small doses of those allergens. It helps to decrease the allergic reactions and asthma symptoms of the child gradually.
How to Treat Asthma?
Treating your child’s asthma can an overwhelming responsibility. How to treat it and control it naturally? What precautions can you take as the child’s parents? Follow these steps:
Learn about asthma
- Be updated about the different types of medications for asthma
- Recognize signs and symptoms of worsening asthma
- Acquire knowledge about the precautionary measures in case of emergencies
Track symptoms with a written plan
- Track how often your child has exacerbations
- Review how well medications are controlling the symptoms
- Note down the medication side effects, if any
- Check how well your child’s lungs are working with a peak flow meter
- Measure how far asthma affects your child’s normal activities
- Learn to adjust medications when symptoms get worse
- Know when to seek emergency care
See the doctor
You need to consult a doctor who can help you to keep a track of the effective asthma treatments and can confirm how well the medications are working.
Control asthma triggers
Identify the triggers and take steps to help your child avoid them. Common asthma triggers are:
- Allergens such as dust mites or pollen
- Cold or other respiratory infections
- Cold weather
- Pet dander
- Cigarette smoke
- Severe heartburn
Asthma can’t be cured, but it can be controlled for sure. Following and updating your child’s asthma progress is the key to keep your child’s asthma under control. As a parent, you need to track your child’s asthma symptoms carefully and bring about the necessary changes as soon as they are required. You need to think and act quickly. A prompt action on your part will prevent your child from suffering a severe attack. Careful asthma management will help your child lead a happy and normal life.
All the treatments – medicines, injections and vaccines are for general information of the reader. Please consult a doctor and get a formal prescription before taking any medicines, supplements and injections.
Need a Online Doctor? Check out Online Doctor Services.