Allergies and asthma
Asthma continues to affect a large number of our children and is one of the leading causes of missing school
So what is it?
Asthma is a condition that affects the air passages to the lungs. After being exposed to a trigger – sometimes dust, smoke, grass – the small breathing tubes in the lungs (called bronchioles) can get swollen and inflamed. The muscles around the bronchioles tighten (called bronchospasm). This reaction causes the wheezing sound we associate with asthma as well as the persistent cough.
It is important that your child be seen by their doctor and assessed to see if they may need some medication.
For more information on asthma, follow the link to kidshealth.org for an easy to read article on asthma which includes a video on what is happening inside the lungs in an attack.
What causes asthma?
We do not know what causes asthma, only that the airways of an affected person can become sensitive to triggers or aggravating factors which brings on an attack. It is more common in children who have parents or siblings that have a history of asthma.
Some of the most common triggers are: the common cold, allergies to the house dust mite (which lives in carpets or can be found on stuffed toys). Other triggers may be pollen; animal dander; smoke; change in weather or humidity; exercise; emotions.
Treatment of asthma
When your child visits the doctor, they may be given a salbutamol inhaler to use. With children, it is difficult to use the correct technique when using the salbutamol metered dose inhaler (MDI). They will usually be given a spacer (or aerochamer) to use with the inhaler. Click on this video to see the correct procedure for using the spacer.
Preventing asthma flare ups
Asthma flare-ups can be handled, but it’s even better if you can prevent them from happening. One way to do that is to avoid triggers. Many children who have asthma also have allergies, so common triggers include things that cause allergies. Some of these are pets, dust mites (little bugs that live in dust), mold, or cockroaches. Other triggers do not cause allergies, but they simply irritate the airways. These can include tobacco smoke, cold air, exercise, and infections, such as colds. If you try to avoid your triggers, you might be able to prevent some asthma flare-ups.
One of the first things we can do to help our children is to breastfeed them. Breast milk has special properties that reduce the risk of illness and decrease the chance of allergies and asthma