Asthma is a chronic respiratory problem with acute exacerbation of the attacks. Children with asthma have sensitive, easily irritated airways in their lungs. When exposed to viruses, second hand smoke, allergens like pollen, dust, cold air or pollutants, the airways become inflamed producing increased mucus, mucosal swelling and muscle contractions. This leads to narrowing of the airway, which causes high-pitched wheezing, coughing, difficulty in breathing and tightness of chest. Asthma in children causes the airways of the lungs to go into spasms.
Asthma symptoms vary from person to person
The duration of an asthma attack can vary, depending on the cause and the trigger. Mild episodes may last only a few minutes and more severe ones can last for hours to days. Mild attacks can resolve spontaneously or with medications. More severe asthma attacks will require appropriate treatment, sometimes hospitalization .
What are the common causes for asthma?
The cause for asthma is different from person to person and can include:
- Airborne substances, such as pollen, dust mites, mold spores, or particles of cockroach waste
- Respiratory infections such as the common cold
- Physical activity (exercise-induced asthma)
- Cold air
- Air pollutants and irritants, such as smoke
- Certain medications
- Strong emotions and stress
- Food additives
What are the warning signs of asthma?
Here are some of the warning signs of asthma:
- Frequent cough, especially at night
asthma in children include:
- Frequent cough that usually occurs while playing, at night, or while crying or laughing
- At times only chronic cough on breathing out may be present
- Low energy while playing
- Breathing that is rapid
- Complains of chest tightening
- Wheezing, which is a whistling sound while breathing out
- Shortness or loss of breath
- Rapid heart rate
- Feeling fatigued
How can asthma be prevented?
Asthma cannot be cured but it can be successfully managed. Here are some suggestions:
- Follow your asthma action plan: Your doctor will help you tailor make a plan, when to take medicines, inhaler etc. to help you control the symptoms before it becomes serious.
- Get vaccinated for influenza and Pneumonia: This will help prevent asthma flare-ups.
- Identify and avoid asthma triggers: Detailing all the environmental and emotional factors and keeping track of your asthma symptoms for several weeks is very important for asthma. Dust mites, air pollution, cold air, sinusitis are some of the causes of asthma and it is always vital to learn to identify your triggers. Some common asthma triggers are not always obvious, such as moulds and cockroaches.
- Monitor your breathing: Recognize warning signs of an impending attack, such as slight coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath.
- Eliminate the pet factor: For the kids it is always suggested not to keep pets at home if you are children are allergic to it. If that is not possible, at least the kids have to be kept away from the pets.
Asthma attacks could be fatal but are largely preventable and manageable. Breathlessness, coughing and wheezing can likely be worse and the patient may be too breathless to speak. If a person appears to be having an asthma attack, they should sit straight and take slow, regular breaths. Asthma bouts can also be kept under check by using corticosteroid inhalers. Thus, asthma can be kept in check by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking the necessary precautions. If you think the symptoms, your experiencing could be a sign of a condition such as asthma, it is advised to see your doctor immediately. Even though most people with asthma may spend part of their daily lives coping with the symptoms but with proper management, people with asthma can live healthy and active lives. The more one is aware of their condition, the better they can keep it in check.