Asthma Childhood Asthmatic Child

Over 6 million asthmatic children live in the U.S.A., making asthma one of the nation’s most common chronic childhood illnesses. Without proper treatment, asthmatic kids experience symptoms that impair their ability to exercise, affect schoolwork, and generally interfere with their quality of life and ability to enjoy their childhood.

The Signs and Symptoms of Asthma

Asthma is a respiratory, or lung, disease. Asthma causes inflammation in the lungs’ bronchial tubes, causing the tubes to swell and stimulating the production of mucus. Asthma symptoms develop when asthmatic kids are exposed to asthma triggers, and include symptoms such as:

  • chest pain
  • coughing
  • shortness of breath
  • wheezing.

Diagnosing Asthmatic Kids

Diagnosing asthmatic children is not overly complex, but does require a multi-pronged approach to diagnosis. An asthmatic kid’s symptoms are recorded, and the doctor conducts a physical examination looking for signs of asthma and/or allergies. Tests to measure breathing capability are also used.

Asthma Treatments

Asthma treatment plans include avoiding asthma triggers, making homes as asthma safe as possible, and use of asthma medication. Most asthmatic kids are prescribed two types of inhaler: A long-acting inhaler taken every day to reduce the risk of asthma attacks, and a rescue inhaler to provide quick relief when an asthma attack starts.

Asthmatic Children and Triggers

Asthmatic kids may be able to avoid asthma attacks by avoiding their asthma triggers. If the asthma trigger is an allergy such as pet dander, avoiding pets helps prevent asthma attacks. Other asthma triggers, such as pollen and air pollution, are more difficult to avoid.

Examples of asthma triggers include:

  • air pollution
  • cockroaches
  • cold weather
  • dust mites
  • emotional stress
  • exercise
  • fungi
  • molds
  • pet dander
  • pollen
  • strong fragrances
  • tobacco smoke.

Home Life and Asthmatic Kids

The home environment should be as asthma-safe as possible. Depending on the child’s asthma triggers, this may require the use of asthma cleaning products, replacing allergen-trapping carpets with hard floors, and possibly finding a new home for the family pet.

Making the home asthma-friendly can be stressful. The child may blame herself for the loss of a pet, for instance, and other children may resent the extra attention asthmatic children seem to get. The goal, however, is to make a home where the child can live without fear of an asthma attack.

Asthmatic Children at School

Asthmatic kids and their parents face some challenges at school as well as at home. School teachers, administrators and the school nurse should be informed of the child’s asthma plan, become educated on recognizing the signs of an asthma attack and know what steps to take should an attack occur.

Asthmatic children may need to carry their rescue medication with them at all times. This may run contrary to the school’s policy on students and medication, as many schools insist for safety reasons that medication only be administered by the school nurse. Parents may need to speak to the school administration to get an exception made for their child.

If an asthmatic kid’s treatment plan works well, he or she need not miss too many days of school due to asthma symptoms. It is likely, however, that asthmatic children will take more sick days than other kids. It’s advisable to keep asthmatic children home from school if they have labored breathing, wheezing and a persistent cough.

Asthma Triggers at School

Asthmatic kids who have regular asthma attacks at school may be allergic to chalk dust. Improvements in the child’s asthma treatment plan may help them deal with chalk dust. Dustless chalk is also available for teachers who have asthmatic kids in their classrooms.

Exercise-Induced Asthma

As many as 90 percent of asthmatic children have exercise-induced asthma, or EIA. Exercise-induced asthma is triggered, as the name suggests, by physical activity, causing asthma symptoms within a few minutes of starting the activity.

Some exercise is less likely to cause EIA than others. Asthmatic children might choose activities such as walking, bicycle riding and swimming over more strenuous physical activities. As their endurance and lung tolerance for exercise grows, asthmatic children can move into sports such as tennis or baseball, and from there into even more strenuous sports.

Doctors sometimes recommend using rescue medication just prior to starting physical activity to prevent EIA. Asthmatic kids should only use rescue medication in this manner if it has been recommended by their doctor.

With a good treatment plan and some foresight, there’s no reason asthmatic children should be regulated to the sidelines during school or physical activities.

Resources

Alvarez, M. ( 2007). Kids and asthma: The best medicine. Retrieved March 20, 2009, from the Fox News Web site: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,276854,00.html.

Keep Kids Healthy. (2000). Asthma at school. Retrieved March 20, 2009, from the Keep Kids Healthy Web site: http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/Asthma/asthma_school.html.

Keep Kids Healthy. (2001). Exercise induced asthma. Retrieved March 20, 2009, from the Keep Kids Healthy Web site: http://www.keepkidshealthy.com/Asthma/exercise_induced_asthma.html.

Nemours Foundation. (2007). Asthma. Retrieved March 20, 2009, from the Kids Health Web site: http://kidshealth.org/kid/health_problems/allergy/asthma.html.