Asthma is a disease that affects your lungs. It is one of the most common long-term diseases of children, but adults can have asthma, too. Asthma causes wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing at night or early in the morning.
While asthma can be caused by many factors such as genetics, allergies- there are certain aspects that can trigger an attack.
- Dust mites
- Pollen or other airborne allergies
- Pet dander
- Tobacco smoke
- Respiratory infections, such as the common cold.
- Physical activity
- Cold air
- Have a plan and be prepared. Your child should have an asthma action plan-their inhaler should always be close by- at least 2 per household. Be sure to carry one with you when you go out if your child has an attach while not at home.
- Take medicines as prescribed. Your family doctor may prescribe something to your child if their asthma is severe, be sure to always keep this handy.
- Identify and avoid triggers
- Know the signs of an attack
- Know how to treat an attack
- Maintain low humidity at home
- Keep indoor air clean
- Reduce pet dander
- Use your air conditioner
- Keep dust to a minimum.
- Clean regularly
- Reduce your child’s exposure to cold air
Being prepared for an asthma attack and knowing what triggers are. One problem with having an ill child is their inability to clearly explain how they feel. An asthmatic child may not come to you in the middle of the night and mention difficulty breathing, or persistent coughing. Instead they may leave their condition to worsen until their lungs have expanded enough to start pressing on their stomach. At this point they may mention they feel sick.
Some children just take a rest when their breathing becomes difficult and never mention they feel out of breath.
If you suspect your child may have asthma you probably know the classic signs to look for:
Asthma signs and symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath.
- Chest tightness or pain.
- Wheezing when exhaling, which is a common sign of asthma in children.
- Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing.
- Coughing or wheezing attacks that are worsened by a respiratory virus, such as a cold or the flu
- Changes in color of skin, nails, or lips, and a tightness of the chest.
Next, ensure your child takes any inhaled medication properly. Many asthma medications are delivered by inhalers and it is often difficult for a child to understand and perform the necessary sequence of breaths to take these medicines. How long did your child take to learn to blow their nose properly? I know of one child who insisted they were holding their breath while they kept their lips firmly together as they breathed through their nose. Many children feel they cannot hold their breath for the required interval and end up dramatically gasping for air. If your asthmatic child has to take medicines through a metered dose inhaler it is often best to use it with a spacer or aero-chamber.
You need to be prepared for an asthma attack. Know what to do. If your child suffers an asthma attack keep calm and resist the urge to cuddle your child. Though this is perfectly natural it will constrict their chest and make it harder for them to breathe.
If you are driving your child to ER or a physician while they are having an asthma attack you must still buckle them into their child seat. Do not hold your child. Imagine what would happen if there was an accident.
To deal with asthma effectively you have to understand the disease and understand your child. You may be tempted to let your doctor make all the decisions, but there is so much more you can do than just administer medication.
You can improve the condition by making changes to the home environment, to your child’s diet, to how they breathe, and to the exercise they take. The more you know about asthma the more effectively you can control it.