Asthma in children
Worried about controlling your child’s asthma? You needn’t worry; nearly all children with asthma in the UK live happy normal lives, because their asthma is well controlled.
There are many symptoms that you have to look out for in children that suffer from asthma, but not all children suffer the same symptoms. The most common symptoms are:
- Wheezing (or a whistling sound when your child breathes)
- Excessive coughing, more so at night time
- Feeling of tightness in the chest
Recognising your child’s symptoms is a big help when it comes to controlling your child’s asthma, if you notice that the symptoms worsen during the night or whilst exercising, the asthma may not be well controlled and a visit to the GP would be advised.
If you notice any of the following symptoms your child may be having a serious asthma attack and an ambulance should be called if the symptoms are severe.
- The reliever inhaler is having no effect.
- Normal asthma symptoms (wheezing, breathlessness, coughing, tight chest) become more severe and constant.
- Breathing becomes very fast and shallow, cannot catch breath enough to say a full sentence in one breath.
- A racing pulse.
- Feeling agitated or restless.
- Lips or fingernails looking blue.
Triggers and Causes
Children most likely to suffer from asthma are those that:
- Have a family history of asthma or other allergic conditions
- Children with food allergies, hay fever and eczema
- Children that suffer from acute bronchiolitis (common condition in babies)
- Premature babies
- Children exposed to tobacco smoke
The most common triggers of asthma are:
- Upper respiratory tract infections
- Airborne Irritants
- Tobacco Smoke
- Weather conditions e.g. wind, heat, humidity and cold etc.
- Indoor conditions e.g. damp, mould and chemicals
- Emotional factors like stress and laughter
- Foods containing sulphites
- Non Steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen.
As there are many different triggers of asthma, understanding what triggers asthma in your children is imperative to controlling it. However every child is different and so are their triggers.
To control the likelihood of asthma attacks and suffering of asthma try to prevent your child from being exposed to these triggers, or teach your child what to do when they feel the onset of asthma coming on.
One of the most important things that will help your child control their asthma is to not smoke cigarettes around them and to not expose them to second hand smoke.
Inhalers fall into 2 categories:
These inhalers are used to relieve asthma symptoms when they develop and become apparent by your child. They need to administered when the child starts wheezing or becomes breathless. They help to open the airways in the child’s chest as it relaxes the muscles. The two main reliever drugs are Salbutamol and Terbutaline, and these drugs are Bronchodilators, because they widen the airways.
If you need to use a reliever more than 3 times a week then a Preventer would be advised.
These are used everyday to prevent symptoms from developing. These inhalers contain steroids that reduce inflammation in the airways. These inhalers take 7-14 days to start working, and do not give instant gratification like the Relievers do. But once they do work and inflammation is controlled, symptoms such as wheezing and breathlessness should become less common and therefore less need to rely on the reliever inhalers.
What can your GP and Asthma Nurses do?
When you initially visit your GP or asthma nurse you should be offered professional advice.
They should offer you lifestyle advice that will help to control your child’s asthma.
Offer you vaccinations to reduce respiratory infections e.g. Flu Jab.
Offer you a written asthma care plan.
Remember if you are ever worried about your child’s asthma and health always get into contact with an asthma nurse or your GP.