Asthma or bronchial asthma, as often called, is a lung disorder that makes it difficult for the lungs to breathe. The chronic condition causes the airways of the respiratory system to shrink in diameter, swell and produce excess mucus, resulting in shortness of breath.
It is a disease that affects both adults and children. In recent times, more and more children are getting affected by this medical condition, which is a matter of concern.
Treating Asthma in Children
What actually triggers childhood asthma?
Various factors can cause this medical condition that can be mild or a lifetime suffering. To name a few prominent ones:
- Children might be prone to allergies like nasal ones or skin allergies (eczema) caused by allergens like ticks, mites, pollens, moulds, animal fur, etc.
- A genetic inheritance of lung disorders
- Respiratory infections like cold, pneumonia, problems of sinusitis, etc.
- Polluting agents like smoke inhaled from passive smoking, automobile exhausts, odours, cold air etc.
- Excessive physical activities leading to wheezing, coughing and tight chests.
- Any sort of stress can start a breathing disturbance and aggravate the conditions.
- Birth in poor environments with low birth weights.
Symptoms to look out for before it’s late
Pediatric asthma is a condition with no age bar. Any child can suffer from it. Asthma can even affect children below the age of 5. The symptoms to look out for may vary between individuals. Even the signs might change in different phases of the disease in the same body. However, most symptoms become prevalent at the age of 5. Here are a few points which might bring out the early signs of this bronchial infection.
- Manifestations in the type of cough can sometimes be the only symptom. There can be coughs that hesitate to go away or one that gets worse after any viral infection. There can be bouts of coughing during physical activities or playing, at night times or even sometimes while laughing or crying. Too much cold weather might induce coughing too.
- Children might feel fatigued easily. They would lack the energy to play and avoid such sports that require strenuous physical activities.
- They can have breathing problems like rapid breathing, shortness of breath or wheezing (whistling sound) while inhaling and exhaling air.
- Retractions (see-saw motions) can be seen in the chest due to troubled breathing.
- Tightness and pain in chest can be felt or even in the neck muscles.
- There may be trouble while sleeping due to coughing spells or difficulty in breathing.
- Problems while eating can also occur. Even loss of appetite can be noticed.
- There can be frequent headaches and dark circles under eyes.
If not controlled, asthma can become serious at times causing extreme fatigue, stress, anxiety, depression, puberty-related problems, growth retardations, severe lung infections that can have deleterious effects on the entire respiratory system. Asthma may lead to mortality even.
Asthma diagnosis and medications-Can asthma be treated or cured?
Once you learn that your child is suffering from asthma, you would consult the doctor. However, there is actually no cure for asthma. The doctor might ask questions of family history of allergies or respiratory disorders and suggest chest X-Rays or spirometric analysis to understand the seriousness of the situation. Most doctors prescribe steroids that have harmful side effects. They affect the internal mouthparts and might cause bone issues or growth problems later in life. Inhalers and pumps are now given as treatments that do help mitigate the situation to a large extent. But research says that an infection makes a person’s airways sensitive for a period of a lifetime. About 50% of the children might show a drop in the asthmatic aggravations in the teens only to regain them in their adulthood.
In the case of infants, doctors usually use the terms like reactive airways disease or bronchiolitis, to mention wheezing, shortness of breath or coughing. Any upper respiratory viral infection like the common cold can trigger the process. There is a lack of information regarding infant lung infections and asthma. It is believed that a child is likely to develop asthma from a mother with allergic histories or asthma. There are even no confirmatory tests to detect asthma in infants.
Prevention is always better can cure.
Asthma is said to affect almost about 7 million children in the US. The numbers are steadily rising and are one of the major causes of long-term illness. So, it is better to take preventive measures to curb the ill effects of the disease. Children should avoid allergens of concern, avoid being in places where smoking is not prohibited, indulge in regular physical activities so that the child maintains a healthy weight, control acid refluxes and consult a doctor whenever any sign is noticed.