Juvenile asthma is a growing problem, particularly in Australia. What causes a child to have an asthma attack is not always clearly defined, which can often make prevention a guessing game.
Asthma among children can be difficult to manage, particularly as each child responds differently to allergens. Image credit: Jenny Rollo/sxc.hu
A child suffering asthma can be particularly difficult, particularly when their age prevents them from fully understanding the gravity of the situation. Kids being kids will generally want to actively play and engage in other physical activities but they can be unaware of an impending attack.
Asthma can be triggered by any number of things, particularly in children who are often more sensitive to irritants in the air. Allergens such as pollens, dust mites, dander or mold, as well as airborne irritants such as cigarette smoke, perfumes, chemicals, respiratory infections such as pneumonia or sinusitis can affect the windpipe and cause an attack.
In some children, vigorous play or exercise can cause tightness in the chest, wheezing and coughing. Emotional factors are also triggers of asthma, like over-excitement or anxiety. Even some medications can trigger an attack. Finally, weather conditions as in cold air, high temperature and excessive humidity.
Asthma can be triggered by a large number of things including flower pollen, cigarette smoke and even active play. Image credit: Pam Roth/sxc.hu
Both preventative medications such as inhalers and nebulizers are commonly prescribed for children as are emergency medications which are considered as 'rescue drugs' to those suffering an attack such as inhalers.
While prevention is always better than cure, it's best to chat with your child so that they best understand the environments and activities that can incite an attack and to ensure they always have proper medication within easy access.
Strict monitoring also helps, so encourage your child to keep track of when they had the attacks and what they were doing at the time. There are also now free smartphone Apps such as the Australian App 'Asthma Buddy' that helps keep track of triggers, attacks, and reminders for medication. Additionally, doctor's consultation can keep your child's safety level high.
There are some free smartphone apps that can assist older children and teens with monitoring attacks as well as medication reminders. Image credit: Natalia Pankova/sxc.hu
Above all it's most important to communicate with your child about the importance of managing asthma. Managing an asthmatic child is not easy, particularly when their age is younger and their symptoms are more difficult to analyse. And as always, a parent should give infinite support, guidance and love to keep the confidence level of the child high.