Asthma is a breathing disorder that occurs when the muscles around the airways become stiff and the airways become inflamed. As it swells, the channel through which the air passes decreases, that is, the bronchi narrow. In turn, a thick viscosity is secreted by the respiratory tract that prevents the correct passage of air. Therefore, the child will have breathing difficulties, frequent coughing and wheezing.
Asthma is very common in children and can be linked to an allergic reaction , although not always. The symptoms we have to pay attention to are:
– The child has trouble breathing, both inhaling and exhaling. In addition, the breath is wheezing, more marked on expiration.
– Some stiffness in the chest. In addition, a sinking of the same and also of the neck can be observed as a consequence of this difficulty when taking the air.
– High respiratory rate compared to that of other children of the same age.
– You have the feeling that you are short of breath, sometimes you may gasp.
– Accumulated tiredness. It is because the coughing attacks increase at night and the child is easily awake because it is difficult for him to breathe. It will depend on the type of asthma the little one has and if there are any triggers nearby. For example, an old mattress or cushion accumulates many mites that will worsen the effects.
On the other hand, we have to differentiate two types of asthma. On the one hand, we find asthma that develops before 12 months of life and may be preceded by respiratory tract infections, presenting the occasional episode of asthmatic crisis. This type of asthma is related to premature births, mothers who continued to smoke during pregnancy, and the presence of older siblings. It is usually not related to heredity and has a good prognosis.
The other type of asthma is allergic asthma . It appears after the first year of life and, unlike the previous one, it is related to the presence in the family of other asthmatics or to the child’s own allergies. Unfortunately, even if the recommended treatment is followed, this type of asthma is usually chronic, even in adulthood, but with proper care, people who suffer from it lead a completely normal life.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF ASTHMA?
There is no decisive factor that causes asthma, there is a set that appears in most children, but there is none that appears in all. Those most related to asthma are:
– Presence of some type of allergy . More than 80% of children with asthma also have some type of allergy, the most typical being allergies to dust mites , flower pollen , humidity or animal hair . It is the most important factor in deciding whether a child will continue to have asthma into adult life , so children with allergies are much more likely to remain asthmatic than those who are not.
– Genetics. As we said before, parents who were asthmatic are more likely to have their children as well.
– Infections that affect the respiratory system.
In any case, each child is different and has to be evaluated individually to know what is the set of factors that are influencing him to end up developing asthma. There is no one rule that applies to everyone.
WHAT IS ASTHMA TREATMENT?
If you suspect that your child has asthma (due to the appreciation of the aforementioned symptoms) and is 5 years old or younger, take him directly to the pediatrician for an examination and a diagnosis. If the child is older than 5 years , the criteria used are the same as for an adult.
Actually, asthma can be perfectly controlled. However, it is a bit difficult for children to learn all the steps to follow. Doctors will design an appropriate action plan depending on the family and personal characteristics of the child. How long it takes the child to control it will depend on his age, how severe the symptoms are and the collaboration of the family itself.
1- The first step is to discover if the child has any type of allergy , since asthmatic attacks are produced by the presence of certain triggers such as temperature changes, infections, intense exercise … but most of them are allergens.
2- Once we know the triggers that give rise to the symptoms and an asthmatic attack, we have to avoid contact with them, although it is not easy. Factors such as strong odors, tobacco, air pollution, etc. make symptoms worse but we cannot always control them. For children with an allergy to dust, it is recommended to use anti-dust mite mattress covers and pillowcases, scrupulous cleaning of the house and especially of their room (avoid stuffed animals with hair, curtains and thick carpets). If you have an allergy to animals, the same logic is followed, avoid contact with their hair. If, on the other hand, you are allergic to pollen or humidity, it is more difficult to control the factors. A solution could be an allergy shot or taking antihistamines.
3- Medications in order to reduce inflammation of the bronchial mucosa : It is the treatment that patients benefit the most from. The medications used are corticosteroids through inhalation. It is recommended for those patients who have several asthma episodes a week and who at night have difficulty breathing due to coughing attacks.
4- Use of bronchodilators . They are inhaled like the previous ones and there are two types, immediate and long-acting. The long-acting ones are taken for several days in a row (although no symptoms are observed), the short-acting ones are used only in specific cases. Ideally, the patient should only use short-acting ones from time to time.
5- Prevention is the best way to avoid symptoms. Apart from taking care of the cleanliness (to avoid possible allergens) there are other factors that we can control. For example, parents should not smoke at home, much less in front of their child. In the case of physical exercise, they can do it perfectly, but if it is spring or pollination season, do not exceed it.
Finally, we have to follow the specific instructions that the pediatrician has designed for our son. Depending on the severity, he can prescribe one medication or another, or even prescribe nothing. For example, an asthmatic with severe symptoms may need anti-inflammatories to deflate the bronchial mucosa and also take specific bronchodilators. Therefore, the treatment will never be the same for two children , even if the symptoms are identical.