Asthma is an incurable chronic inflammation of the respiratory tract. Children with asthma may have trouble breathing, lack of breath, breathe “squeaks” or cough. This is because their airways are “stimulated” quickly, and this can cause many complaints. Sometimes the child has no symptoms for a while. But the problem can explode again at any time.
Many children with asthma are allergic. For example, it can be sensitive to dust mites, or not withstand pets or pollen. Asthma complaints can also have a non-allergic cause, such as suffocating while exercising, being cold or exposed to stimuli such as cigarette smoke.
In acute asthma, the respiratory system narrows when inhaling certain stimuli. For example, smoke, dust mites and pet hair. But it can also be due to effort or cold. In response, the muscles around the airways contract. The mucous membrane inside the airways swells, more mucus is generated. This causes the lungs to fill in excess air that cannot be cooled.
All these reactions together form an asthma attack. That’s when suddenly your little one has trouble breathing. Asthma is generally not dangerous. As your child grows, asthma attacks will usually decrease or even disappear, but sometimes they don’t even after taking medication. That is known as acute asthma.
What are the symptoms of asthma in children?
– A constant whistle in the chest.
– Constant, intermittent cough or that seems to be related to physical activity.
– Wheezing when your child breathes.
– Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing.
– Complaints about chest tightness.
– Repeated episodes of possible bronchitis or pneumonia.
– Being tired or out of breath when making an effort.
Many young children have these symptoms. More than half of them seem to have no asthma. For most children, complaints are ignored before age 6.
What can make children with asthma more sensitive to different stimuli? Why does asthma?
In children with asthma, the airways respond to certain stimuli. Not all children respond to the same stimuli. Your child may be hypersensitive to one or more stimuli. The airways usually respond immediately after stimulation, but sometimes only after hours.
There are different types of stimuli:
The incentives that cause an allergic respiratory reaction in many children with asthma are:
– House dust mite (mainly in a dusty and humid house).
– Pet dander (cats, dogs, rodents and horses)
– Pollen (pollen) of trees, herbs or weeds (in spring and summer)
– Fungi (they are in a wet house).
There are also other (non-allergic) stimuli that can irritate the respiratory tract, such as:
– Cold or humid air, steam, fog.
– Smoke, air pollution, baking, painting or perfume, air, and deodorant.
– Physical effort.
– Respiratory tract infections such as colds or flu.
– Emotions (for example, anger, discomfort, sadness).
– Some medications.
Does my child have asthma or not?
Is your child coughing frequently and for a long time, is he panting or breathing quickly, or is he short of breath? Then you might have asthma, but it can also be another problem, it does not necessarily have to be asthma.
There are a number of childhood diseases that can cause a feeling of congestion, such as the RS virus, the pseudogroup, and whooping cough. In asthma, the lungs are inflamed, but it is not the same as pneumonia. In the case of pneumonia, the lungs are inflamed by a bacterium or a virus. And pneumonia is not permanent, it often heals within two to three weeks after treatment.
In case of problems or suspected asthma, it is a good idea to go with your child to the doctor to find out what is happening. Also, because asthma is difficult to detect in young children. This is because children are often only allowed to perform a lung function test after age six.
Before the doctor can determine if your child has asthma, several tests are needed. The doctor will ask you exactly what the symptoms are and when it particularly affects your child. Then listen to the lungs. Then lung function tests are performed on children from age six to investigate how well the lungs work. Sometimes it is decided to start a trial treatment with asthma medications, to see if that improves.
How to diagnose or how is asthma in children detected?
Doctors will take into account a series of parameters to be able to make a diagnosis, among others:
– Gravity, duration, and pattern of complaints in the respiratory tract, such as wheezing, cough, shortness of breath, day and night functioning, frequency and duration of episodes and intervals without symptoms.
– Indications for allergic stimuli, such as allergic rhinitis; complaints in a humid environment, in spring or summer, in contact with animals or other stimuli.
– Indications for non-allergic stimuli: persistent complaints after viral infections of the respiratory tract; complaints with cold or damp air, fog, smoke (tobacco), dust (fine), cooking, painting, perfume, emotions or during or after exercise.
– Smoking: parents or other people around the child who are smokers; or depending on his age, by the child himself.
– Family history: It is not clear why one child has asthma and the other does not. Inheritance plays an important role. As a result, there are often more people with asthma in a family. If one or both parents have asthma, there is a greater chance that their child will also have asthma.
How to treat asthma in children?
If your child was diagnosed with asthma, they will most likely receive some type of medication for it. Most likely, you should take these medications through an inhaler. Asthma is often well controlled with these medications. Make sure you take your medication on time and properly.
It is important that the whole family is aware and that the members of the house can have protocols in case of an asthma attack.
Tips for children with asthma
If you know what stimuli your child is allergic to, you can try to avoid them as much as possible.
– With an allergy to dust mites, this means that you should keep the children’s room dust free and dry as much as possible.
– Blood tests can show if your child is allergic to certain stimuli.
– Sometimes it is necessary to get rid of a pet. A cat’s skin scales can remain at home for six months after the cat is gone. Your child may continue to suffer from this stimulus due to cat allergy for another six months.
– Do you see if your child is congested or coughing due to other stimuli (not allergic), such as smoke, cooking, painting or perfume? Then try to avoid those stimuli.
– Never smoke or let anyone smoke near children. And of course not with children with asthma. Never smoke in a house where a child with asthma lives. Even if the child is not there at that time.
– It is possible to suffocate during physical exercise. However, physical exercise is very important, especially in children with asthma. Go out with him often and let him run, pedal and play. You can also take it to swimming lessons or to do the sport you like. Maintaining the doctor’s guidelines does not have to stop enjoying physical exercise.
What is an asthma attack?
In the case of an asthma attack, the mucous membranes of the nose, throat, and lungs swell due to substances to which your child is sensitive. Mucous membranes produce more moisture and mucus than usual. The muscles around the airways shrink, contract, and therefore narrow, which makes breathing difficult. The lungs overflow with air that does not cool. Therefore, your child can inhale and exhale less air.
In infants and young children, an asthma attack is usually caused by a viral infection. But the irritability of the airways can also be influenced by other factors. Think for example of allergens such as house dust mites, pets, grass and tree pollen, and cigarette smoke. Factors such as temperature, humidity, exercise, and emotions can also cause an asthma attack.
What should you do in case of an asthma attack in children?
If your child suffers an asthma attack, it is important that a lot of fresh air enters the room and if it happens in a public place, make sure the area is non-smoking. Try to let him relax. If you use asthma medications, give them immediately when the attack begins. If you are not sure about helping him with this, you can always call the doctor.
It is important that you try to keep yourself as calm as possible because if you are nervous and show it, it can scare your child. If you panic, you can also get more anxious, which often increases anxiety and complicates the situation.
Childhood asthma is not a disease other than asthma in adults, but children face special challenges. This disease is one of the main causes of visits to the emergency room, hospitalizations and absence from school.
Unfortunately, childhood asthma cannot be cured and symptoms can continue until adulthood. But, with the right treatment, you and your child can control the symptoms and prevent damage to the growing lungs.
Take your child to a doctor if you suspect he may have asthma. Early treatment will help control symptoms and possibly prevent asthma attacks.
All the information that we give you in this article is for orientation since each person is different, so to establish a diagnosis and treatment it is essential that you go to your pediatrician.
Carolina González Ramos
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