Asthma in Children

Just Allergies or More?

The air that we breathe in has oxygen which is absorbed into the body’s bloodstream. Our respiratory system has airways which are tubes that transport the oxygenated blood to the lungs. These tubes when narrowed and inflamed make it difficult to breathe.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes a spasm in the bronchus. The World Health Organization states that asthma is the most commonly found chronic disorder in children.

Children of any age can suffer from asthma, however, the symptoms most commonly manifest after the age of 5. There are no specific causative factors of asthma. Dust, smoke, strong scents, animal fur, sinus infections, humid weather, air conditioner dust, persistent cold and flu are common triggers of asthma and can result in an asthmatic attack.

It is always advisable for an asthmatic to take preventive measures and avoid contact with any of the triggers but the danger is not only in the outside environment but also inside.

Asthma may sometimes begin with prolonged cough, flu and other allergies. Staying indoors will not help either because dust mites, cockroaches, animal dander can also trigger allergy related illness. Infectious particles settle on home furniture and floors, mites infect soft furnishings at home and cause harm. A normal child may feel no difference, although an asthmatic can feel differences in their health.

Asthma in children cannot be diagnosed or sometimes even recognised by parents because of the symptoms it presents. A persistent cough, sneezing, blocked nose are common symptoms we always associate with cold and flu. These are most common symptoms that parents should keep an eye on in children.

These symptoms result in Allergic Rhinitis, a condition affecting the nose and commonly known as hay fever. Rhinitis is a common problem in children but often underdiagnosed because of its misleading symptoms like a runny nose, snoring, breathing through mouth etc. Asthma and allergic rhinitis are related health conditions and it is most common that children with rhinitis may develop asthma.

It is advisable for children with asthma to be checked for allergic rhinitis as well because it makes asthma difficult to control. Asthma triggers in children can also trigger their allergies and worsen the infection.

Unhealthy dietary practices are also attributed to escalating rates of asthma. It is not common for food allergies to trigger asthma, however, sometimes food allergies are often followed by symptoms such as swelling of the throat, wheezing etc.

There is no asthma friendly diet as such, however, a good diet is an important part of treatment for asthma. Intake of lots of fruits and vegetables and food rich in Omega 3 fatty acids should be encouraged. Consumption of junk and comfort foods should be reduced to a great extent.

We often underestimate common illnesses particularly when it comes to infections such as cold and flu and do not pay attention to symptoms unless they become severe which will have profound effects on health. There is a wide list of different types of lung conditions including asthma found in children which mimic symptoms of other condition which makes it difficult to diagnose or understand the condition.

The most important measure to be taken to prevent the onset of an attack is to avoid exposure to any of the triggers. Diagnosing allergies early on, particularly in children will help reduce hospital visits and to keep a watch on conditions that could occur further on.

On having persistent flu symptoms, it is advisable to consult a specialist instead of continuing over the counter medications which is the usual norm. In the case of allergic rhinitis, both asthma and rhinitis have to be treated simultaneously. Air conditioner vents should be cleaned regularly to avoid accumulation of dust particles.

Children should not be exposed to triggers like dust and smoke. Cleaning and sanitising the house at regular intervals will help avoid frequent infections and allergies in children. Treatment options for asthma depend on the severity and frequency of the condition. Asthma can only be treated and not cured, hence if detected in childhood, asthma can be controlled to a great extent by adulthood.

It is always best to consult a specialist for an expert opinion on your child’s condition.

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