Having trouble breathing or being short of breath is terrifying for anyone, but it's especially scary for a parent when it happens to their child. Asthma is a condition that affects just over 8% of kids in the United States and if you are a parent of a child with asthma or if you suspect that your child has asthma, you're no stranger to the fear that comes along with your child having troubles breathing.
How Asthma Affects Kids
If your child has asthma, certain triggers can make their lungs and airways become easily inflamed. Common asthma triggers are things like pollen and other allergens or incidents like getting a cold or other respiratory infection. Asthma pretty much has the same effect on adults as it does on children, but the hardest thing about having a child with asthma may be explaining to them that they can't play or be their normal active selves when their symptoms have been triggered or if they're currently having issues breathing.
It's so hard to curb the active lives of kids that asthma has been reported as the number one reported condition for missed school and hospital visits in the United States. It's possible that as your child ages, they'll outgrow their asthma, but aside from this hope, there is no cure for it. There are however, many treatment options that if done consistently will help your child to not be robbed of too much playtime during their childhood.
What Are The Signs Of Asthma In Kids?
The first step in getting these treatments is determining if your child suffers from the condition. If your child has asthma, they're likely to suffer from shortness of breath. Aside from your child telling you about problems breathing, they may notice and tell you about chest tightening. You might observe a whistling sound (also caused wheezing) when they breathe or a persistent cough that worsens when they have a cold or any illness that normally affects the ability to breathe. You may also notice that coughing gets worse when your child has allergies, exercises or is exposed to cold air.
If you notice these symptoms on a semi-regular basis as opposed to one-off events, you should take your child to the doctor. There may also be times when your child is actually having an asthma attack and a trip to the emergency room is required. If this happens, you'll be able to tell because your child's wheezing will be so extreme that they'll have trouble speaking and the whistling sound will intensify. You will also be able to notice signs of labored breathing like flared nostrils and physically being able to see their abdomen contracting when they breathe.
Asthma & Kids: Going To The ER
If you end up in a situation, where you have to go to the emergency room, your child will likely be treated in one of 3 ways. They may be given bronchodilator drugs via a nebulizer to help open airwaves, extra oxygen or corticosteroid drugs in pill or IV form to help lower lung inflammation. The type of treatment that you receive will mostly depend on the symptoms that your child presents when you arrive. The severity of asthma symptoms will vary with each child. While one child may have an asthma attack or two every year, other kids will need to go to the hospital on a monthly basis. You may also notice more attacks in certain seasons like summer when they're more active and more prone to allergies or winter when the air is cooler.
What Causes Asthma In Kids?
It is still mostly unknown what causes asthma but correlations have been made between kids that develop allergies as well as asthma. There has also been evidence that shows that there may be a genetic connection as children who develop asthma symptoms often have parents with asthma. There are also some conditional things that can cause a child to develop asthma, including contracting certain types of airway infections when they're younger or exposure to things like smoke or pollution.
What Is The Treatment For Asthma In Kids?
After consulting with your doctor and confirming that your child is asthmatic, you'll most likely be prescribed a fast-acting inhaler that can provide them with immediate relief when they have symptoms. Depending on the age of your child, your doctor may also prescribe a preventative inhaler that will help to control their symptoms and lessen the number of attacks that they have. At-home nebulizers are also available for purchase if you feel as if you're in the hospital more often than not and want to have the option to administer treatment at home when the attack isn't too severe.
Asthma & Kids: Knowing The Triggers
Since there are no cures to asthma, the best thing that parents can do to prevent triggers is to avoid them. You can't necessarily keep your child in a bubble, but you can keep them from things like smoke or other allergens that may bother them. It may seem counterintuitive, but encouraging your child to stay active can keep them in shape which can help their lungs to develop. You just always want to make sure that your child has their fast-acting rescue inhaler in case they need it when they're active.