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Childhood asthma

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Childhood asthma is like any other asthma but the complications and risks are more as it affects children. Their respiratory passages are very easily vulnerable to infection, which triggers asthma. Therefore, it is important to take kids for a medical check up in order to improve health in the best possible way.

Symptoms of childhood asthma

First symptoms show up in the age of 5. The symptoms of childhood asthma are:

  • Bouts of coughing, frequently during any activity or normally
  • Wheezing (whistling sound) while inhaling and exhaling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain, congestion or tightness in chest
  • Disturbed sleep due to cough and breathing problems
  • Tiredness and fatigue normally or during physical activity
  • Prone to infections like common cold, respiratory infections, flu etc.

Causes of childhood asthma

Children who have an oversensitive immune system are usually prone to having asthma at young age. This could be inherited or acquired by respiratory infections in the formative years itself. Environmental factors also play a major role in development of asthma.

If a child is diagnosed with asthma, then it could be triggered by several external agents like:

  • Exposure to smoke, allergens, dust, pollutants, chemicals, and irritants
  • Viral infections
  • Physical activities – playing, running, etc.
  • Winter season
  • Inflammation of sinuses

When to see a doctor?

It’s important to take your child to doctor on observing the aforementioned symptoms. Early diagnosis is the only way to avoid major complications associated with asthma.

Diagnosis of childhood asthma

Diagnosis of asthma in children is purely based on clinical examination. The doctor will evaluate the symptoms and ask several questions regarding the problems experienced by your child. He/she will also need to know if anyone in the family has a history of asthma.

Additional tests for asthma include pulmonary function testing to check the pattern of airflow to the lungs and spirometry test to check the lung function. A chest x ray may also be suggested. This is done in children above 6 years of age.

Allergy tests also help to find out asthma triggered by allergens and other types of agents.

The diagnosis is completely based on the symptoms in younger children

Treatment of childhood asthma

The treatment is dependent on the age of your child and the severity of the symptoms. The approach is to manage asthma with medicines and by taking necessary precautions.

For children below 3 years of age, doctors usually believe that symptoms disappear with age. In older children asthma is controlled either with short term medications or with long term medications. Allergy treatment is also a part of allergy-induced asthma.

In babies, the drugs are delivered with the help of nebulizers.

The treatment is continued until significant improvement of the symptoms is noticed.

Lifestyle changes and home remedies for childhood asthma

  • Incorporate the lifestyle changes suggested by your doctor to protect your child from asthma attack
  • Keep your surrounding clean, free of dust, allergens (pet dander, mites, etc.) and smoke
  • Check the humidity of your room. Adjust it as suggested by your doctor
  • Make sure your child does some breathing exercises that help to improve asthma
  • Ask him/her to cover his nose and mouth while travelling
  • Keep your child protected against cold and infections

Childhood asthma if treated early eventually reduces to a significant extent with time. However, make sure you are completely aware of the asthma management plan to help your child recover quickly.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 17, 2015

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