Asthma is a respiratory condition that is characterized by breathing problems due to the inflammation and narrowing of airways. It can affect people of all age groups. During an attack, the muscles around the airways tighten, causing them to become constricted. This might be accompanied by excessive production of mucus. Mucus is a sticky, thick liquid that can further narrow the airways. Flare-ups could also occur due to common cold and flu in children. Though the exact cause of this condition is not known, it is believed that environmental and genetic factors might play a role. Children who have a family history of asthma are more likely to get affected. At times, this respiratory disorder might resolve as the child grows, but for some children, it might persist into adulthood.
Here are some of the common symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Wheezing (whistle-like sound when breathing)
- Coughing which worsens when the child is exposed to cold air
- Coughing at night
- Tightness in the chest
- Chest pain
- Tiredness even after light physical exertion
Avoidance of the Triggers
Asthma attacks often occur due to exposure to triggers. For instance, exposure to allergens (pollens, mold, animal dander, dust mites, etc.), environmental irritants, changes in the weather, etc., could trigger an attack. While treating children who are asthmatic, the first aim is to identify and avoid the triggers. The use of antihistamines can prove beneficial, if the attack is caused due to the exposure to an allergen.
Medication for Quick Relief
Since the symptoms occur due to inflammation and narrowing of the airways, drugs are prescribed for reducing the inflammation. Beta-agonists and corticosteroids are usually recommended. Quick relief (rescue) medicines are usually prescribed for providing instant relief. These short-acting bronchodilators (drugs that quickly widen the airways, thereby allowing air to pass through the airways easily) can be administered with the help of inhalers (metered dose inhalers or dry powder inhalers) or nebulizers. Inhalers are portable devices that push out pre-measured medicine in the form of spray. Nebulizers use compressed air to turn liquid medication into a fine spray, which can be inhaled through a mouthpiece.
Medication for Long-term Asthma Control
Inhaled corticosteroids, long-acting beta-agonists, combination inhalers, etc., might be recommended as long-term treatment options. These corticosteroids help fight the inflammation and keep the airways open to facilitate breathing. They are one of the best forms of anti-inflammatory medication and also help fight any reaction from an allergen. In case of people who are susceptible to attacks that are exercise-induced, taking a bronchodilator before the exercise routine will prove beneficial.
Identifying and avoiding the triggers is extremely essential so as to reduce the frequency of attacks. It is always advisable to consult your doctor, if your child has been experiencing breathing problems.