Asthma In Children
What is asthma?
Asthma is a lung condition that causes coughing and shortness of breath.
Asthma is caused by inflammation that causes the lining of the airways to swell and the muscles around the airways to tighten. Asthma may be a serious illness for children.
What are the symptoms?
There may be early warning signs before more serious asthma symptoms occur.
· Your child may complain about having trouble breathing or you may notice changes in your child’s breathing.
· Infants will have rapid breathing and a rattling cough.
· A child with asthma may have more colds than other children. When the child gets a cold, it usually goes right to their chest.
Sometimes the only symptom of an asthma attack is a steady cough. The cough may only occur at night.
Your child may have asthma if:
· he or she coughs repeatedly,
· clears his throat often
· sounds wheezy when breathing out (A child can have asthma and not wheeze.)
· shortness of breath and chest tightness.
Asthma attacks can occur quickly and cause mild discomfort. They can last from a few minutes to hours, or even days. Some attacks may be very severe and life-threatening.
Many things can make asthma worse, such as: cigarette smoke, pollution, dust, pet dander, mold, infections, cold weather, exercise, emotions, gastroesophageal reflux, and hormones. These vary from person to person. Avoiding the triggers can often prevent attacks.
How is it treated?
The goal of treatment is for your child to live a normal, active life. Together you, your child, and your personal healthcare provider can work to gain control of the symptoms by developing an asthma management plan.
The plan includes:
· Controller or preventive medicines to help prevent an asthma attack,
· Quick relief or rescue medicines to take when symptoms increase. These are only taken when symptoms start.
Make sure that you and your child understand how to take the medications your personal healthcare provider has prescribed.
Talk to your personal healthcare provider about creating an asthma treatment plan. The asthma treatment plan will include information on when to call the provider, when to change or increase medications and the use of any specific devices such as a peak flow meter, inhaler, or a nebulizer.
Children may be embarrassed about taking their medicine at school. Work with your child’s teacher, school nurse, and coach to make sure your child takes his medicine. The child will be able to take part in school activities when he takes his medicine as prescribed.
What can I do to prevent my child’s asthma from getting worse?
You can also help your child by learning what triggers your child’s asthma and then reducing allergens and other triggers such as dust, smoke, and pet dander. For example:
· Keep pets out of your child’s room.
· Reduce the growth of mold by keeping the humidity in your house below 50%.
· Dust-proof your child’s bedroom.
· Change the filters on your hot-air heating system or air conditioner at least monthly.
· Use allergy-proof covers on pillows and mattresses.
· Wash throw rugs, sheets, blankets, and stuffed animals often in hot water to kill dust mites.
· Ask your personal healthcare provider about a yearly flu shot
· Never allow anyone to smoke around children.
When should I see my personal healthcare provider?
See your personal healthcare provider if the child with asthma has the following symptoms:
· Breathing very fast or breathlessness
· Wheezing loudly when breathing
· Only being able to talk in short sentences or phrases
· An anxious, agitated, or scared look
· A fast heartbeat
· A peak flow rate in the red zone.
More severe symptoms that require emergency treatment include:
· Blue or grey lips or fingernails
· Nostrils that flare when breathing in
· Unusually pale or sweaty
· Trouble walking or stops playing because of breathing problems
· Cannot stop coughing
· An infant stops feeding.
Asthma can be treated, but cannot be cured. The good news is that in most cases, a child’s symptoms can be controlled so that they can lead a normal, active life.
Where can I get more information?
The website provides a great deal of information about asthma, its causes and effects, its medications and management, all in a kid-friendly tone. http://www.asthmakids.ca
Asthma Society of Canada
124 Merton Street, Suite 401
Phone: 1-866-787-4050 Toll Free
About Kids Health
This kid dedicated website has great information on asthma for parents and spots just for kids. Parents can visit the asthma resource centre at: http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/ResourceCentres/Asthma/Pages/default.aspx.
Kids can view the interactive learning area just for kids at: http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/En/JustForKids/Health/Asthma/Pages/default.aspx
The Lung Association of Canada
How to use a peak flow meter: http://www.lung.ca/lung-health/get-help/how-use-your-inhaler/peak-flow-meter