Do you suspect your child is at risk of an asthma attack?
Maybe you notice your child is clearing their throat. Perhaps they’ve been wheezing. Maybe they’ve got a runny nose. It could be an asthma attack about to happen, and you can’t see it coming.
Accordingly, the treatment of asthma can be challenging. But how you manage your child’s asthma can help prevent asthma attacks. This article will explore the basics of asthma and asthma management for children.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disease that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways in the lungs. This makes it difficult for people with asthma to breathe normally and may require emergency treatment.
There are three types of asthma: intermittent, persistent and exercise-induced.
- Intermittent asthma can occur in children exposed to secondhand smoke or who have had a respiratory infection such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
- Persistent asthma occurs when there is ongoing exposure to something that triggers inflammation in the lungs, such as dust mites or cigarette smoke.
- Exercise-induced asthma occurs when there is ongoing exposure to something that triggers inflammation in the lungs during physical activity, such as running or playing sports.
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Signs and Symptoms of Asthma Attack in a Child
An asthma attack can be terrifying for parents and caregivers because they don’t know what to expect or how to help their child. Here are some signs that your child is having an asthma attack:
- Shortness of breath
- Wheezing or whistling sound when he/she breathes out
- Tightness in his/her chest or neck
- Fast heartbeat (tachycardia)
- Trouble sleeping because he/she keeps waking up from coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath (or because you keep waking up)
Call your doctor immediately if your child has any of these symptoms or if they get worse. If it’s after hours, go to the emergency room immediately!
What Does a Child’s Asthma Attack Sound Like
The sound of a child’s asthma attack can vary greatly, but it usually sounds like wheezing. The wheezing may be high-pitched or low-pitched, and it can be loud, quiet, or somewhere between.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes airways to narrow and swell when exposed to triggers. The most common triggers include dust, pollen, smoke and pet dander.
The cause of asthma is not entirely understood, but it does appear that several things can trigger an asthma attack. The most common triggers include:
- Airborne allergens (such as pollen or dust mites)
- Infections (such as colds or cases of flu)
- Medications (including aspirin or NSAIDs)
- Cold air
Asthma Triggers in Children
Asthma triggers can be difficult to identify, especially for children. Children with asthma are more sensitive to certain allergens and irritants than people without asthma, so their triggers are different. Asthma triggers in children include:
- Dust mites
- Animals (dogs and cats)
- Cigarette smoke
How to Diagnose Asthma
If you think your child has asthma, talk to your doctor about getting a diagnosis.
Here are some of the tests and procedures your doctor may recommend:
This test is done by injecting a tiny amount of allergen (such as dust mite or cat dander) under the skin on your child’s back. If your child has allergies, his or her body will react to the injection by producing an inflammatory response that swells the area.
The test is only accurate if you have already ruled out other conditions that can cause swelling, such as hives and insect bites.
You may need this test if your doctor suspects another condition is causing your child’s symptoms. An X-ray can show whether there’s fluid in the lungs or if there are changes consistent with asthma.
These tests measure how well a person breathes when exercising (pulmonary function tests) and how much air they inhale and exhale (spirometry). They can help determine whether someone has asthma, but they don’t show what triggers an attack or how severe it might be without medication.
In most cases, asthma can be managed by controlling environmental triggers that cause symptoms.
Inhaled corticosteroids are the most common asthma treatment. They reduce inflammation in the airways and make it easier to breathe. Inhaled corticosteroids come in two forms: short-acting and long-acting. Short-acting inhaled steroids control asthma symptoms quickly; long-acting inhaled steroids prevent asthma symptoms from returning over time.
If you have mild to moderate asthma, your doctor may recommend an inhaler or nebuliser as a first-aid treatment option for the sudden worsening of symptoms during exercise or exposure to allergens (such as pollen). If you have severe asthma or frequent flare-ups of symptoms, then oral steroids may be recommended instead of inhaled corticosteroids.
Some people with severe asthma may need oral prednisone tablets (a steroid) along with their regular daily medicines; this is called “step-up” therapy because it helps them get much better faster than usual treatments alone.
First Aid Tips: What To Do If Your Child Has An Asthma Attack
Parents of kids with asthma need to know the basic steps in dealing with an asthma attack, as it can mean the difference between life and death depending on how severe the attack is. Here’s what you need to know:
The first step would be to help your child sit in a comfortable position. That way your child’s air passages aren’t restricted and that should help your child breathe a bit better.
Next would be to help your child take her medication. It’s best to familiarise yourself and your child beforehand about using inhalers so that you can feel confident in helping your child take her medication.
Reassure your child by telling her that she’s doing good, and that everything will be fine. This will help your child relax and being relaxed can also help your child with coping with the asthma attack.
If you think that your child is having a severe attack, or if you don’t have any medication on hand, it’s best to call your local hotline so that they can help you further. They should also guide you on what steps to take while waiting for help to arrive. If you’re unsure of what to do, don’t hesitate to call for help.
When to Take a Child to ER for Asthma
Children with asthma can have flare-ups that require emergency treatment, but there are other times when you should take your child to the emergency room or urgent care centre. Here’s what to look out for:
Your child’s symptoms get worse, or new symptoms develop.
If your child has been having mild symptoms and suddenly gets much worse or if they develop new symptoms, it could mean they’re having an asthma attack. You should call your doctor immediately and then go to the ER if you don’t hear back from them within a reasonable time.
Your child has trouble breathing.
If your child can’t breathe well enough to maintain normal activities or is too short of breath even to talk, it’s time to head for the ER.
Your child has trouble breathing at night.
If your child wakes up gasping for breath at night, that can also be an asthma attack—but this one may not be as obvious because most kids sleep through it! If this happens more than once, call your doctor immediately so they can help determine whether it’s asthma or something else that requires medical attention.
Is Childhood Asthma Curable
Childhood asthma is not curable, but it can be controlled.
If you have a child with asthma, the most important thing to remember is that childhood asthma is not curable. However, it can be controlled. The earlier you recognise your child’s symptoms and start treatment, the better off he or she will be.
Child Asthma – Coughing at Night
Do you have a child with asthma? If so, you know how frustrating it can be to get them to sleep at night.
A cough is one of the most common asthma symptoms in children. It can be hard to sleep when your child is coughing and wheezing, but the good news is that there are things you can do about it!
Here are some tips for helping your child breathe easier at night:
- Encourage a calm bedtime routine—this is important for any child, especially those with asthma. A slow and steady routine will help your child wind down and let their body relax before bedtime.
- Check the humidity level in your home—if it is too high (around 50%), it may cause asthma symptoms like coughing and wheezing. To lower humidity levels in your home, run a dehumidifier or invest in an air purifier. You can also use a humidifier if your house has low humidity levels (the ideal range for people with asthma is 40-50%).
Make sure your child isn’t allergic to dust mites—if possible, keep pets out of your child’s room (especially cats). Keep furniture away from walls and vacuum regularly to remove allergens like dust mites.
Updates from Pheona Ilagan
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