Written in layman's terms, this easy understandable article points out reasons parents should understand asthma. Asthma in children can remain untreated, because most people aren't aware they have this condition early on. Since asthma is not curable, a parent's correct management of the condition is crucial. A simple explanation about "what is asthma" provides parents with a basic understanding of the condition. Types and triggers of asthma, as well as symptoms are addressed.
All parents should educate themselves to recognize symptoms of asthma in children. This medical condition affects millions of Americans, male and female alike. The problem is that it often goes untreated, because people simply do not know they have asthma.
When accounting for all ages, the condition is more prevalent among females. But asthma in children is more likely to affect boys. Parents of children with asthma should seek treatment early on for greatest effectiveness. Your medical doctor can teach you and your child to recognize early warning signs and prevent many attacks.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a lung condition that makes it difficult to breathe. Breathing in brings necessary oxygen to the bloodstream. Breathing out is the body's way of ridding itself of carbon dioxide from the blood.
Life's breath is our greatest gift. Because it is an automatic function of our body, we rarely pay attention to breathing. Until…breathing becomes difficult.
When something triggers an asthma attack, the respiratory system reacts. Bronchial tubes suffer muscle spasms and become inflamed. Due to muscles gripping air passages, in conjunction with swelling caused by inflammation, air passages narrow. Bronchial tubes produce unnecessary mucus when they are swollen.
Although breathing appears normal between attacks, the bronchial tubes remain inflamed, making the lungs extra sensitive to triggers. Your child may experience wheezing and coughing, so that breathing is indeed not normal. In essence, children with asthma are subject to more attacks and a vicious cycle results.
Symptoms of Asthma
When the airways are narrowed, it makes breathing in and out difficult. Asthma in children will manifest different symptoms from person to person. Bronchial tube spasms may appear suddenly in some children, which result in sudden challenges in breathing. Frequently, children awaken from a sound sleep, struggling to breathe.
An asthma attack can cause various symptoms, such as pain or tightness in the child's chest, shortness of breath or gasping, wheezing and coughing. Common signs leading up to an episode include: fatigue, runny nose, subtle changes in breathing and/or itchy chin or throat.
Parents should be mindful that symptoms of asthma could also point to other health problems.
Types and Triggers of Asthma
The four types of asthma are: mild intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent and severe persistent. When children with asthma are diagnosed as severe persistent, parents should be extra-vigilant. In atypical cases, an asthma attack can prove fatal.
Exposures to certain triggers initiate attacks. Allergy asthma can result from dust and dust mites, pollen, animal dander, mold and cockroach droppings. Respiratory infections from colds, sore throats and flu are common triggers. Irritants, such as air pollution, certain perfumes and/or tobacco smoke can bring on asthma attacks.
Excitement or stress doesn't literally cause asthma, but the body's response to emotions can trigger episodes. Certain kinds of exercise, cold weather and medications containing aspirin can set-off asthma attacks.
This medical condition appears to be genetic to some degree. When parents have asthma, their children are at heightened risk. If only one parent is asthmatic, the risk to the child is increased when their mother has it, opposed to the father.
How is Asthma in Children Diagnosed?
A head-to-toe assessment gives a general picture of the child's health. A chest X-ray, lung function tests, blood and sputum (liquid coughed up) tests are common diagnostic tools. Allergy testing will help parents identify specific allergy asthma triggers.
Keeping Asthma in Children under Control
Parents should work hand-in-hand with the child's pediatrician to identify and avoid triggers. Potential allergens should especially be cleared from the child's bedroom and even the whole house to the greatest possible extent.
A home peak flow meter device will alert parents of potential episodes of asthma. (The peak flow meter measures changes in lung function.) The health –care provider may determine that medication is necessary. Drugs may be prescribed on a regular basis to control inflammation in the lungs/prevent asthma attacks. Or, they may be prescribed on an as-needed basis to open bronchial tubes during an attack.
Medication is commonly inhaled to increase effectiveness and/or reduce side-effects.
Asthma in children is a chronic condition that is not curable. It can be controlled with diligent management. Some children "outgrow" the condition, but there is no way to determine whether or not this will happen to your child. Therefore, it is vital to seek immediate medical care instead of hoping the problem will go away.
With correct medical treatment and monitoring by parents, most symptoms of asthma can be controlled and future episodes prevented. When parents work in concert with the child's health provider, the long-term outlook is excellent. Education is the best offense for the fight against childhood asthma.
Sources: kidshealth.org, Asthma & Allergy Foundation America, www.webmd.com/asthma
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