Learning to Live with Childhood Asthma
Asthma is a chronic lung condition. It causes the airways to become swollen and narrowed which interferes with the passage of air to the lungs. During an asthma attack, a person may cough, wheeze or feel tightness across the chest. This makes it hard to breathe. If an attack becomes severe, the person may have to go to the hospital. If you have a child with asthma, you know how hard it is to watch your child struggle during an asthma attack.
Make a plan
If your child has asthma, you can take steps to ensure that he or she leads an active, normal life. First, work closely with your child's doctor on an asthma management plan. Your child's doctor will prescribe medications to help control asthma symptoms. The doctor will show you and your child how these medicines work and when to use them. Knowing how to use medications correctly is vital to controlling attacks.
The two types of medicine used to control asthma are reliever and controller medications. Reliever medications ease an asthma attack quickly by relaxing the muscles around the airways. This makes it easier to breathe. You can help prevent your child from having an attack by giving reliever medication at the first sign of symptoms.
Unlike reliever medications, controller medications are usually taken every day. Controller medications prevent airways from swelling so that attacks occur less often or not at all. Since Joseph started taking these medications, his asthma is better controlled, and his parents haven't had to rush him to the doctor's office because of an acute attack.
Many people with asthma use a peak-flow meter to measure how well air flows in and out of their lungs. This device can help keep track of variations from day to day. It can tell if airways are narrowing hours and sometimes days before your child has symptoms. A peak-flow meter can help you and your child do the following:
Decide when to increase or stop taking rescue medications
Determine if symptoms are getting better or worse
Monitor how well your asthma management plan is working
Identify things that trigger attacks
Every child responds differently to medications, so work closely with your child's doctor to find a plan that works best for your child.
The ABCs of asthma
You should learn all you can about your child's asthma and then teach your child. Every child has different asthma triggers. Learning to identify and avoid these triggers can help you and your child manage asthma symptoms.
Below is a list of asthma triggers and suggestions for how to reduce your child's exposure to them.
Tobacco smoke. Do not allow smoking in your home or anywhere around your child.
Animal dander. It's best to not have pets with fur or feathers. At the very least, keep animals out of your child's bedroom and vacuum often.
Cockroach droppings. Use traps to keep roaches out of your house. Keep food out of your child's bedroom.
Dust mites. Dust mites live in cloth or carpet. Use a dustproof cover on your child's mattress and pillow. Wash sheets and blankets once a week in hot water. Keep stuffed toys out of your child's bedroom. Remove carpets.
Mold. Clean moldy surfaces with bleach.
Pollen. Try to keep your child inside when pollen counts are high.
Before buying a home, it is wise to make certain the house does not have a forced-air heating system. This has been shown to trigger asthma in some children.
Keep kids active
Although exercise can bring on asthma, it is one trigger your child shouldn't avoid. Exercise is very important for a child with asthma.
Your child can learn to monitor his or her asthma. For example, your child can learn to sit out an activity when symptoms flare up. Using an inhaler before exercising can also help keep asthma under control.
Please consult your doctor with any questions or concerns you may have regarding this condition.