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Childhood Asthma: A parent’s guide to care and prevention

When your kid is living with asthma, it’s natural to be worried and extend more care and attention to their health and wellbeing. Childhood Asthma, or Paediatric Asthma, is one of the most common chronic lung conditions in infants and children. It happens when the airways of the lungs become inflamed, making it difficult for a child to breathe. The condition can significantly impact the daily routine of the child. Indeed, no parent wants to witness their child grappling with the impact of asthma.

In India, approximately one in four children will experience asthma symptoms at some juncture. According to research, asthma is one of the most common reasons that children visit doctors, miss school, or have to go to hospitals. In fact, the condition has witnessed a significant rise due to factors such as poor air quality, a high prevalence of allergies, and various other reasons like viral outbreaks.

For most children, asthma can be managed through lifestyle adjustments, environmental measures, and medications. However, there may be instances where you’re not present to offer immediate assistance. It’s crucial for both you and your child to understand how asthma operates, the necessary treatments, and when to administer them. This knowledge can help the both of you to gain better control over this respiratory condition.

In this blog, we have compiled a guide for parents of children with asthma to provide insight into what to anticipate in the event of future incidents.

Identifying and diagnosing asthma

Asthma symptoms typically manifest in children before the age of 5, making accurate diagnosis challenging. Initially, distinguishing between asthma symptoms and those of a common respiratory infection may be difficult.

As your child matures, asthma signs become more apparent, especially if they are already contending with other allergies or if a parent has asthma.

Emerging symptoms of asthma may encompass:

  • Persistent coughing even when not ill
  • Wheezing or whistling sound during exhalation
  • Chest pain and tightness
  • Constant shortness of breath
  • Episodes of cough attacks
  • Having difficulty walking and/or talking
  • Difficulty sleeping due to coughing
  • Bluish tinge on the lips or fingernails

A crucial initial step is scheduling an appointment with an asthma and allergy specialist to ensure your child receives optimal care promptly.

Managing your child’s asthma

As a parent of an asthmatic kid, handling asthma can be daunting, particularly without a clear understanding of what to expect. Creating an asthma action plan can enhance the sense of security for both your child and yourself. It can remove the limitations on your child’s life and stop deterring them from participating in activities typical of their peers. Once asthma is effectively managed, your child can engage in play, attend school regularly, and enjoy restful sleep.

Identify flare-Up triggers

The actual cause of asthma is unknown, but genetic and environmental factors appear to play an important impact. When a child has asthma, their lungs become extremely susceptible to particular triggers. Flare-ups can be triggered by specific airborne allergens or sudden bursts of physical activity. There are several other potential triggers, including:

  • Infections affecting the airways, such as pneumonia and sinus. 
  • Allergies to substances like cockroaches, dust mites, mould, pet dander, and pollen grains.
  • Irritation of the airways due to air pollution, chemicals, cold air, and scents, leading to symptoms like wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness.
  • Cigarette smoke, including second-hand smoke. 

These irritants can also induce shortness of breath and exacerbate symptoms in your child. Both you and your child need to learn to recognise when a flare-up is imminent and whether it warrants a visit to the emergency room. Ensure your child has an inhaler and any other prescribed tools and medications readily available.

Take prescribed medication

Your child might be prescribed daily medication, such as a once-a-day pill, to prevent airway constriction, tightness, or irritation caused by allergens. Another type of medication could be an inhaler, offering quick relief and maintaining open airways during an asthma attack or breathing emergency.

Prepare for emergencies

The timing of severe flare-ups is unpredictable. Stay attuned to your child’s warning signs, communication cues, and swiftly escalating asthma symptoms. Always have emergency medication in hand, along with the contact information for your child’s respiratory doctor. Recognising and addressing asthma promptly can be crucial in preventing severe consequences.

Closing thoughts

Various asthma types can be diagnosed in your child based on symptoms and triggers. Whether breathing difficulties arise from physical allergies or exercise-induced issues, securing the best asthma treatment promptly is paramount for your little one’s well-being. Consult your child’s healthcare provider to develop a documented asthma action plan. 

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