Asthma in Children
Asthma in Children.
Asthma in children affects just over 20 million Americans, but what’s even more disturbing is the fact that asthma in children numbers are rising. And with nearly 1 out of 10 children in the US having asthma, it’s a growing issue. In the UK, no less than 1.1 million children have been diagnosed with having asthma.
Having asthma myself, I knew that there could be a good chance that one of our boys might develop it too and, unfortunately, I wasn’t wrong.
Three months into being a parent for the first time, Joshua got bronchiolitis. Now don’t get me wrong, I realise that just because your three-month-old baby has bronchiolitis, it doesn’t mean they will go on to develop asthma. Far from it. Bronchiolitis is a virus and does not cause asthma in any shape or form.
But as his bronchiolitis got worse, I couldn’t help but think back to the restless nights I spent coughing as a child.
We all know that childhood asthma can’t be cured, (or any kind of asthma for that matter) but what it can be is controlled.
Our job as parents is to have the knowledge and understanding one needs so we can provide our children with a happier and healthier childhood. Omitting our kids from certain activities is not the answer. Having the correct procedures and controls in place is.
Diagnosis and Symptoms of Asthma in Children
As we discovered at the time, these were just two common symptoms of asthma and DID NOT MEAN he was going to develop asthma. In fact, when we took him to the doctors, they actually told us that they do not diagnose children with asthma until they are at least two years old.
But what our doctor did do though, was to take into account Joshua’s asthma risk factors. This included such things like taking a look at my own medical history, finding out whether or not either of us smoked or if we had any pets at home, sleeping in the bedrooms. All of these factors eventually helped to decide whether or not Joshua’s breathing problems were asthma related.
What I didn’t realise was, wheeziness is more common in adults with asthma than children. And because I thought ‘asthma is asthma’ I presumed the same could be said for children with asthma too.
Early Symptoms of Asthma in Children
- The number one symptom to detecting asthma in children is the chronic cough. If all other symptoms evade you, this one won’t let you down.
- Coughing may be worse after running, crying or any other fiscal exercise for that matter. ,
- Coughing at night. We didn’t know that if you leave the window open, this can make the coughing worse. No more so than during the summer months when the pollen count is high.
Any child that has a chronic or frequent cough should be seen by their doctor. It might also be worth noting that asthma in children is normally diagnosed by the time they reach five years old.
Treatment for Asthma in Children
Once the doctor eventually diagnosed Joshua with asthma (after about 16 months of frequent trips to the doctors) it was time to discover the level of asthma that he had. This helped the doctor prescribe the right types and amounts of medication Joshua needed. He ended up with the same inhalers as me but in smaller doses.
Treatment for Joshua’s asthma was arranged between the asthma clinic at our local surgery, and us. Treatment for asthma in children involve four areas. These included…
- An asthma management plan (you can download yours here)
- Monitoring. This includes making sure we keep an extra eye on him whilst he has colds, feeling under the weather, listening to the weather and listening out for high pollen counts etc. We also find it necessary to keep him in on bonfire night.
- Medication. We have to make sure that Joshua gets the correct medication every day. His brown inhaler (beclotide – the preventer) is administrated twice a day whilst his blue inhaler (Ventolin – the reliever) is only given when shortness of breath occurs. It goes without saying that his medication is always taken with us when we go out, just in case.
- Prevention. Because we monitor and apply the correct medication on a regular basis, we allow Joshua to participate in as many after-school activities as he is capable of. All of the instructors are aware of his asthma and to be fair to Joshua, he knows his limits because if needed, he will ask for his inhaler and take a rest. The only time we step in and say no is when he has a cold (he’ll suffer from a shortness of breath) or on bonfire night when there’s too much smoke around.
There are many different medicines that can be used to treat asthma in children. Moreover, they do a good job of controlling the symptoms too. As previously mentioned, they fall into two categories, quick-relieve medicines and controller (or preventive) medicians.
As well as inhalers, Joshua was given a spacer (or you may know it as a nebulizer). This is designed to help children take their medication more effectively. If your child is prescribed an inhaler, it may be worth knowing in advance that he/she may not take to it with any kind of willingness what so ever!
But perseverance does pay off. Joshua has even been known to administer his own medication when he feels the need (or so we let him think).
For whatever reason, you may be reluctant to give your child this kind of medication at such an early age. If you are looking at more natural treatment methods, it’s essential that you discuss them with your child’s doctor first. Please remember that by not treating your child’s asthma effectively, it can be life-threatening.
Prevention of Asthma in Children
Once Joshua was finally diagnosed with having asthma, we were able to set about eliminating the triggers that might set off his coughing.
The cat was the first to go, not literally, he was just prevented from going upstairs. and as I mentioned earlier, we also started closing his bedroom window at night. The doctor had told us that this was when the pollen count was at its highest.
Setting about ensuring that all asthma triggers were to a minimum, we soon discovered that his condition slightly improved. This was particularly noticeable with his coughing at night.
Of course, it can be said that the combination of trigger avoidance and medication is more likely to be the true factor as to why Joshua’s asthma has made an improvement over the years.
Foot Note -This post is only intended as a source of information. It is a post based on my own experiences and not as advice. ALWAYS seek advice from a doctor so you are able to receive the correct diagnosis and medication.
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