Asthma is a challenging condition, especially in children. It can affect all areas of your child’s life. In childhood asthma, the lungs and airways become easily inflamed when exposed to certain triggers, such as inhaling airborne pollen or catching a cold. Childhood asthma can cause bothersome daily symptoms that interfere with school, sports, and sleep. Children may doubt their ability to participate in sports or band. They may feel embarrassed or feel different from their peers because of the need to avoid situations that may trigger asthma.
Childhood asthma isn’t a different disease from asthma in adults, but children do face unique challenges. Asthma in children is a leading cause of emergency department visits, hospitalizations and missed school days. For some childhood asthma can’t be cured, and symptoms may continue into adulthood. But with the right treatment, you and your child can keep symptoms under control and prevent damage to growing lungs.
The underlying causes of childhood asthma aren’t fully understood. Developing an overly sensitive immune system generally plays a role. Some factors thought to be involved include: Inherited traits, Some types of airway infections at a very young age, Exposure to environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke or other air pollution, Increased immune system sensitivity causes the lungs and airways to swell and produce mucus when exposed to certain triggers.
Reaction to a trigger may be delayed, making it more difficult to identify the trigger. These triggers vary from child to child and can include:
Viral infections such as the common cold, Exposure to air pollutants, such as tobacco smoke, Allergies to dust mites, pet dander, pollen or mold, Physical activity, Weather changes or cold air and Sometimes, asthma symptoms occur with no apparent triggers.
Lifestyle and home remedies
Steps to help avoid triggers vary depending on what triggers your child’s asthma. Here are some things that may help:
-Maintain low humidity at home. If you live in a damp climate, talk to your child’s doctor about using a device to keep the air drier (dehumidifier).
-Keep indoor air clean. Have a heating and air conditioning professional check your air conditioning system every year. Change the filters in your furnace and air conditioner according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
-Reduce pet dander. If your child is allergic to dander, it’s best to avoid pets with fur or feathers.
-Keep dust to a minimum. Clean regularly and reduce dust that may aggravate nighttime symptoms by replacing certain items in your bedroom. For example, encase pillows, mattresses and box springs in dust-proof covers. Consider removing carpeting and installing hard flooring, particularly in your child’s bedroom. Use washable curtains and blinds.
-Reduce your child’s exposure to cold air. If your child’s asthma is worsened by cold, dry air, wearing a face mask outside can help
-Don’t allow smoking around your child. Exposure to tobacco smoke during infancy is a strong risk factor for childhood asthma control
-Help your child maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can worsen asthma symptoms, and it puts your child at risk of other health problems.
Keep these tips in mind to make life as normal as possible:
-Make treatment a regular part of life. If your child has to take daily medication, don’t make a big deal out of it, it should be as routine as eating breakfast or brushing teeth.
-Use a written asthma action plan. Work with your child’s doctor to develop your child’s action plan so that your child can identify symptoms early and deal with it. Also, give a copy of it to all of your child’s caregivers, such as child care providers, teachers, coaches and the parents of your child’s friends.
-Be encouraging. Focus attention on the things your child can do, not on the things he or she can’t. Encourage normal play and activity. Don’t limit your child’s activities out of fear of an asthma attack — work with your child’s doctor to control exercise-induced symptoms.
-Be calm and in control when facing asthma symptoms. Don’t get rattled if you see asthma symptoms getting worse. Focus on your child’s asthma action plan and involve your child in each step so that he or she understands what’s happening.
Dr. Anoob Stephen
Aster Clinic, Bahrain