Asthma is the most common long-lasting condition in children, so here is our list of five key facts about childhood asthma parents need to know.
Exploring the Five Key Facts About Childhood Asthma Parents Need to Know
Asthma, sometimes referred to as ‘bronchial asthma’, is an inflammatory disease of the lungs.
It is a chronic condition that affects the airways and makes breathing difficult by causing inflammation of the air pathways, which results in the temporary narrowing of the air passages carrying oxygen to the lungs. This leads to the different asthma symptoms like wheezing, chest tightness, coughing, and shortness of breath. Asthma, when it is severe, can also cause an inability to talk and decreased activity.
Every year around 26 million people in America are diagnosed with this condition. People who suffer from asthma tend to have very sensitive air pathways and react to different environmental ‘triggers’. The asthma symptoms may get worse when they come in contact with these triggers. Some of the common triggers for this condition include changes in weather, allergens such as pet dander, pollen, and mold spores, as well as tobacco smoke.
When your asthma symptoms worsen suddenly, you may experience an asthma attack. In an asthma attack, your air passages tighten, fill with mucus, or get inflamed. Wheezing, trouble breathing, coughing, and chest pain are some of the common symptoms associated with an asthma attack. Depending upon the severity of the asthma attack, these symptoms may vary. It is also important to note that the asthma attack symptoms differ from person to person. Some may not experience all these symptoms, while others may experience them all but at different times.
There are certain risk factors that increase your likelihood for developing asthma. It is true that anyone can develop this condition without the risk factors, however, it is less likely if these risk factors are absent. Childhood asthma is more common in boys than girls, and genetics also plays a major role in the development of asthma. You cannot change your family history or gender, but you can still avoid passive smoking, breathing in allergens, and also maintain your weight. After all, one of the crucial steps in preventing asthma attacks is avoiding the risk factors that are under your control.
Breathing is supposed to be automatic and easy, but if you or your child has been diagnosed with asthma, it is a different story altogether. There is no known cause that explains why asthma is the most common chronic disorder in children today. One of the theories states that doctors are just now recognizing that asthma can develop even in young kids. Michael Welch, professor of pediatrics at the University of California, says, “In the past, doctors were reluctant to make the diagnosis before age 5 or 6. Now, it’s more common for doctors to diagnose a preschooler, a toddler, or even a baby with asthma”.
Here are the five key facts about childhood asthma parents need to know.
The first of the five key facts about childhood asthma parents need to know, is that even if there is no wheezing, your child could still have asthma. If your child has a persistent cold or recurring cough, take him or her to a doctor immediately. It is indeed true that wheezing is a hallmark of asthma, but there is no written rule that says this symptoms should be present in everyone who has asthma. Your child could still be suffering from asthma without showing any wheezing symptoms. A persistent dry cough is usually a sign of cough-variant asthma, which is one of the types of asthma. If your child’s asthma gets worse when they are active or lying down, the doctor will use a spirometer to perform a test. The spirometer measures the volume of air in the child’s lungs.
2. There is a link between childhood eczema and asthma.
It is possible for kids who have eczema as babies to develop several allergies and asthma later on in life. There are some allergy shots that can help treat these allergies, and also act as a treatment for asthma, as it can reduce the child’s chances of developing asthma. Dr. Welch says, “Most parents don’t know about the link between eczema and asthma, and it’s even surprising to many physicians that there’s a strong connection between a condition that affects the skin and one that affects the airways”.
3. Certain environmental factors can trigger asthma in children.
Although experts aren’t sure why asthma is more prevalent in children today than in the past, they have a lot of theories. One of the five key facts about childhood asthma parents need to know is that there is a theory which states that the rising level of pollution, especially allergens and smoke, play a major role as environmental ‘triggers’. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, long term exposure to particulate matter and ozone can, and does, increase the risk of developing asthma in children. About 70 percent of people suffering from asthma also have allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. These allergies can be related to food, pollen, or dust. Surprisingly, research indicates that kids who grow up with a pet have a lower risk of developing asthma. This may be due to the fact that exposure to the germs carried by pets makes the immune system stronger, and this in turn protects kids from allergies and asthma.
4. Childhood asthma should not stop kids from engaging in activities.
Asthma is indeed a serious condition and it can, sometimes, be fatal, however one of the five key facts about childhood asthma parents need to know is that there are numerous medications and therapies used as treatment for asthma to help keep it under control. The best way to control childhood asthma is not to limit the activities of the children, but to use the right medications for asthma treatment. Medications are usually taken by an inhaler or asthma pump which delivers medicine to your lungs as you breathe in. This type of asthma treatment will help control the symptoms, so refrain from putting up many restrictions on your children, and let them engage in any activities they are interested in. Nathanael Horne, an assistant professor of medicine at New York Medical College, said, “That includes exercise, camp, and sports”.
5. Do not let your guard down if your child has only mild asthma.
According to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, children with a history of mild asthma attacks can have serious attacks due to certain allergic triggers. Once a child is diagnosed with asthma, allergies and viruses affecting the upper-respiratory region are some of the most common triggers for attacks. Cold air, cleaning products, exercise, and exposure to smoke can also lead to an asthma attack. A deficiency of vitamin D, certain medications, and emotional anxiety can also bring on an asthma attack. Do not be overwhelmed by the amount of triggers because your child will likely be sensitive to certain triggers only. As these triggers can cause severe asthma attacks, it is important to be prepared for such occasions. Therefore, you should not let your guard down if your child has mild asthma.
There are various treatments and medications via an asthma pump that can help you treat and control your child’s asthma symptoms. Usually you will have an asthma treatment plan which has been put together with your doctor or nurse which details information about your medicine, monitoring your child’s asthma and what to do if they have an asthma attack. The asthma treatment plan for your child must be reevaluated every three to six months because there may be a need to modify it, if the severity of the asthma changes.
If your child has asthma, please keep in mind these five key facts about childhood asthma parents need to know to ensure your child has the best quality of life.
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