Asthma is a condition characterized by narrow and inflamed airways that secrete abnormal amounts of mucus, aggravating further problem. Here is the focus on how children are affected with asthma.
Causes: Major cause for asthma is sensitivity to non-infectious substances termed as allergens. Some of the common allergens that cause asthma include pollen, pet hair, medicines, dust, and certain foods. It may also be caused by viral infection of airways or lungs. Other factors that contribute to childhood asthma include:
• Smoking during pregnancy results in birth of babies with lowered lung functionality.
• Increased exposure to tobacco smoke also poses the risk of asthma in children.
• Hereditary is another cause for asthma. Children with a family history of asthma are more likely to be attacked compared to others.
• Exposure to cold air especially at nights.
• Increased emotional stress like laughing or crying aggravates the symptoms.
• Boys and children who are black are at more risk than girls and white children.
Symptoms: The primary symptom is inability to breath due to blocked airways. Airways secrete more mucus as a protective action to drive away the irritating substances. This will further block the already inflamed airways. Symptoms that are characteristic of asthma include coughing, wheezing, sleeplessness, unable to involve actively in physical works like exercises, disturbed sleep and rigidity of the chest region.
Diagnosis: Asthma can be easily characterized by reducing ability to breathe. However, diagnostic test that helps to estimate the severity of the condition is done by allowing the child to exhale air into a device peak flow meter that records the rate of the air flow. Skin tests are carried out to find if the child is allergic to any substance. Chest x-ray helps to rule out other lung disorders.
Treatment: Any sign of asthma in children has to be given utmost care. It cannot be clearly stated whether a child will grow out of asthma or not. In most of the cases as the child grows, the immune system develops and may stop responding to substances that were allergic in the childhood, but the symptoms may revert back at a later stage of life. If asthma is due to other reasons, 99% of the children will grow out of asthma. If asthma is left untreated in childhood it may result in damage of the airways.
If the symptoms are mild, use of an inhaler which drives medicine when inhaled will relieve the symptoms. In cases where children will be unable to talk due to lack of breathe have to be given an emergency care. The condition will be more critical in cases of toddlers and infants, who cannot express their difficulty. They can be identified by their difficulty in crying due to restricted air paths.
Relievers either with short term or long term effects are used. Short term relievers clear the air ways and enable the child to breathe within a very short period of using them.
Steroids are prescribed to children who are allergic, to prevent the onset of symptoms. If controlling the asthma cannot be gained by a regular use of short term steroid relievers, long term relievers are prescribed.
Preventers which are used to prevent the onset of symptoms have to be taken regularly without fail. Regular use of preventers helps to gain control over asthma, within a period of six weeks eliminating the need of inhaler. Increased use of steroids may cause mild side effects.
Other measures that help to gain control over asthma apart from medicines is identification of the possible allergen and keeping the child away from them. Regular use of a diary to note the symptoms and possible cause will help to identify the allergen very easily.