Does your child experience coughing or extreme shortness of breath after exercise or when exposed to allergies? If so, chances are he or she has asthma. This is a common condition, affecting 11% of 6 and 7 year old children, that leads to swelling of the airways and the production of excess mucus. For some adults, asthma is a minor nuisance, but for your child, it could interfere with their daily activities or even be life-threatening. While there is currently no cure for asthma, you can help your child to control the symptoms, typically with the help of inhalers. The causes of asthma are not fully understood, but there are risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing the condition. These include:
Research indicates that children with blood relatives with asthma have higher chances of getting the condition. Studies have shown that asthma is a highly heritable disease with genetic factors accounting for around 70% of the variation in its susceptibility. Since you cannot do much about family history, you should take your child to a doctor immediately if you notice asthma-like symptoms.
Viral respiratory infections increase the chances of your child developing chronic asthma. Illnesses such as the cold and flu cause wheezing in children, and this makes them prone to asthmatic symptoms. While you cannot always prevent upper respiratory illness, you can reduce the chances of infection. Simple things like encouraging regular hand washing and limiting exposure to anyone with colds can minimize the symptoms.
If your child has allergy-related conditions, the allergens can trigger an asthma attack. Conditions like eczema and allergic rhinitis make your child vulnerable to pet dander, dust mites, mold, and pollen. To prevent allergens from triggering an asthma attack, you should help your child to avoid the triggers by keeping your house clean and dust-free.
Overweight children are at greater risk of suffering from asthma. While the underlying cause is unclear, scientists believe that obesity often results in inflammation, and when the airways are swollen, they trigger asthma symptoms. Keeping your child within the healthy weight range reduces inflammatory factors and prevents irritation of the airways.
Exposure to cigarette smoke leads to irritation of the airways and frequent asthma symptoms. While children are unlikely to be smokers themselves, second-hand smoke poses almost as big a risk. If you smoke in your car or at home, you are exposing your kids to the lingering tobacco smoke and chemicals. Mothers who smoke when pregnant are also more likely to give birth to children with asthma.
If you live in an area with smoke and smog, your child is likely to develop asthma. The air pollution from the vehicles and factories exposes your kid to chemicals that irritate their airways. The smog can cause wheezing and shortness of breath, leading to asthma.
What are the symptoms of asthma?
While asthma cannot be cured, medication can control your child’s symptoms and reduce further damage. The common signs and symptoms include:
• Frequent coughing which is triggered by cold air. The coughing gets worse at night, when your child is exercising, or when they have a viral infection.
• A wheezing or whistling sound when breathing.
• Shortness of breath.
• Rapid breathing.
• Chest tightening or complaints of chest pains.
• Fatigue and feeling weak during physical activity.
The above symptoms often cause discomfort when sleeping due to wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath. The loss of breath limits a child’s physical activity and leads to fatigue due to the lack of adequate sleep. Asthma signs are different for every kid, and the symptoms may get worse or better as the child grows. Some children might also have only one symptom, like bouts of coughing, while others will exhibit multiple signs.
It is difficult to determine whether your child’s symptoms are due to asthma. Besides, respiratory infections also cause some of these symptoms. Therefore, you should see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and a suitable asthma treatment plan.