Your doctor will examine your child, and may also suggest some medical tests for your child. Don't worry, these tests are simple and painless. The doctor may ask you for details, such as:
In many children, the tendency to develop asthma is there right from birth. Asthma runs in some families, but many people with asthma have no other family members affected.
Asthma is not infectious. So your child did not 'catch' asthma from anyone else, and no one else at home or school can get 'infected' by it.
Many children with asthma have fewer problems during their teenage years and for some the problems may even completely stop. This is called 'growing out' of asthma. We cannot predict which children will 'grow out'. But what is definite is that if treatment is delayed or if asthma is not treated properly, it gets worse and causes permanent damage to the lungs.
Asthma affects the air tubes which carry air in and out of your child's lungs. The air tubes are swollen and extra-sensitive. So they react badly to anything that irritates them. These things are called asthma triggers.
When your child comes in contact with an asthma trigger, the muscles around the walls of the air tubes tighten, so the air tubes become narrower. Often the air tubes also produce extra sticky mucus. All this makes it difficult for air to go in and out of the air tubes, so your child starts coughing and gets breathless.
You can help your child in two ways:
- Try to identify the things that trigger your child's asthma and help your child to avoid them
- Make sure your child takes the right medicines regularly and exactly the way the doctor says, and go for regular check-ups.
There are two main kinds of asthma medicines. They are called Preventers and Relievers, and they work in different ways.
A Preventer protects your child's air tubes by making them less sensitive to asthma triggers which cause coughing and breathing difficulties. Taking the Preventer regularly is a good habit which you should teach your child - just like brushing teeth daily!
A Reliever should be used only when your child suffers from coughing and breathing difficulties. It relieves these problems quickly by helping the air tubes to open wider so air can go in and out more easily. Ensure that your child always carries the Reliever medicine (even to school) in case it is suddenly needed.
The best way to take asthma medicines is by inhalation. This is a way of breathing in the medicine through the mouth, using a small device called an inhaler.
Inhalation therapy is the most accepted way of asthma control worldwide. This is because inhalers have many advantages over tablets and syrups:
In fact, inhaled asthma medicines are so safe that they are prescribed not just for children but even for infants, pregnant women and nursing mothers!
- Make your child sit upright (do not let your child lie down). Keep your child calm and relaxed. Loosen tight clothing.
- Without delay, make your child take the Reliever medicine in the dosage recommended by your doctor.
- Then wait for 5 minutes. If there is no improvement, make your child take additional doses of the Reliever medicine as advised by your doctor.
- If your child still does not get relief, call your doctor immediately. Do not exceed the dose of the Reliever medicine without consulting your doctor.
Yes! With your doctor's advice and right treatment and your own love and care, you can look forward to a normal life for your child in every way.
The Internet offers many web sites on asthma.
Here are some sites which are easy to read and have helpful information:
- Coughing and breathlessness completely under control
- No need to miss school or studies
- Full participation in play and exercise
- Undisturbed sleep
- No emergency visits to doctor or hospital
- Normal growth and development
- With an inhaler, the medicine goes only into the lungs where it is needed. Just like you put ointment on the skin for a skin problem, or eye drops in the eye for an eye problem. Whereas with tablets and syrups, the medicine travels all over the body apart from going to the lungs.
- Inhaled medicine takes a direct route into the lungs, so only a very small dose is required, and it acts fast. Tablets and syrups take a longer route to the lungs so they act more slowly, require a much bigger dose, and cause more side effects.
- Does your child keep having these problems'
- Cough, particularly at night or in the early morning
- Wheeze (a whistling sound coming from your child's chest)
- Runny nose
- Difficulty in breathing, sometimes with a feeling of tightness in the chest
- Has your child ever been diagnosed as having a chest infection such as 'bronchitis' or 'pneumonia' Even after treatment with antibiotics and cough syrups, does the problem keep coming back'
- Does your child have allergies?
Children with asthma are particularly sensitive to dust, smoke, furry or feathered animals (cats, dogs, birds), and plant pollen in gardens and parks.
- While playing or doing PT, does your child have problems?
If physical exertion makes your child get breathless and tired easily, or start coughing, this could be a sign of asthma.
- Is your child's breathing affected by changes in temperature, particularly cold weather?
- Does your child have breathing trouble after crying or laughing, or getting angry or frightened?
Strong emotions lead to deep and fast breathing, and this can cause problems if your child has asthma.