5 Ways To Handle Asthma Attacks In Children

An asthma attack is scary for both the child as well as the parents. Here are 5 ways to handle it better. Plus, we are busting some myths on asthma as well.

By Ashwin Dewan  • 9 min read

5 Ways To Handle Asthma Attacks In Children

Four-year-old Aakash has frequent attacks of asthma. During his bouts of asthma, he suffers from difficulty in breathing, experiences pain in his chest and coughs without stopping. His mother Ronita suffers from anxiety whenever Aakash has asthma attacks outside. Sometimes, Ronita has no clue how to handle these asthma attacks that spring up anytime and anywhere.

This is not an isolated case. There are many parents whose children suffer from asthma and they experience the same anxiety and helplessness that Ronita does. Watching a child struggle to lead a normal life due to asthma is a difficult emotion for any parent.

What is asthma?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), asthma is characterised by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing. It is a condition that causes inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes, which are the passageways that allow air to enter and leave the lungs. Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children. However, the conditions of asthma vary from individual to individual depending on the severity of the attack and frequency. 

Although asthma is common in all age groups, it usually begins in childhood.

"There are many types of asthma such as cardiac asthma, wheezing asthma, and specific types of asthma that are transmitted from the parent to child. Sometimes, allergic rashes in children can be a precursor to asthma, which can also be triggered by viral infection or a food allergy. Sometimes, even chocolate, cake, ice cream, citrus fruits, seafood, etc. can cause asthma,” says G S Kailash, a pulmonologist from Chennai.

When a child has asthma, the bronchial tubes that carry air to the lungs get inflamed and become highly sensitive. During this condition, even a little amount of dust, a sudden blast of cold air, a puff of smoke, a cold virus can result in a tight squeezing of the bronchial tubes, which leaves little room for air to pass. When this happens, asthma attack occurs. If your child has asthma, there is no need to panic. 

Here are 5 ways that help you handle asthma attacks in children.

1. Identify the asthma triggers in your child

Asthma triggers vary from one child to another. For some, it may be pollen while for others it may be the cold air or even smoke from a cigarette. Learning to identify asthma triggers goes a long way in handling asthma attacks in children. Take the doctor's help to identify triggers and understand ways through which you can help your child. Some common asthma triggers are cold, pollen, dust mites, dampness, etc.

2. Write down a plan to track symptoms

An asthma action plan can help you know how well your child is responding to treatment based on the symptoms. Along with your child’s doctor, create a plan that clearly outlines steps needed to manage your child’s asthma. Once you successfully make a plan, share it with your child’s caretaker, your family members, the teachers at your child’s school, etc. This plan can help you and your child track how often he has asthma flare-ups, how well the medications are working, any side effects of medication, how much the symptoms affect your child’s daily activities, and when to seek medical care.

3. Get a flu shot to prevent chances of getting asthma

A flu shot is one effective way to handle asthma attacks in children. Make sure your child gets his flu shot each fall. However, a flu shot does not mean your child will not get asthma. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children who are allergic to eggs should avoid the nasal-spray version of the flu vaccine. They should get their flu shot in the doctor’s office and not at a drugstore or a pharmacy. Also, after every six months, visit the doctor so the doctor can monitor symptoms and suggest medication, whether less or more.

There should be no restrictions on children's ability to play, take gym class, or compete in sports just because they have asthma. Well-Controlled asthma doesn't interfere with day-to-day activities. Go through the below article to know more.

4. Do a thorough research on asthma

While trying to handle asthma attacks in children, parents often overlook one important aspect – that a thorough knowledge of asthma helps a lot. Learning exactly what steps to take on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis will prove useful. Parents need to understand the different types of medications for asthma and the way they work, recognise and record signs and symptoms of worsening asthma, and know what action to perform in case the child’s asthma gets worse.

5. Give quick-relief medicine

If there is a sudden asthma attack and you are not well prepared to handle it apart from having an inhaler handy, you can follow these steps. Sit the child upright comfortably and loosen any tight clothing; give one puff of quick-relief medicine from the child’s inhaler, ask the child to take four breaths from the spacer followed by at least three more puffs. If the child does not use an inhaler, use one from the first-aid kit.

Asthma is the leading cause of chronic illness in children. In such a case, how can parents identify that their children are asthmatic? Go through this ClipBook to know more.

Asthma: Myths Vs Facts

There are several myths around asthma. We are busting some of them.

1. Myth: Children with asthma should avoid physical activity

Fact: Exercise is as important for children with asthma as it is for everyone else. With proper care and precaution, children with asthma can indulge in physical activity and play outdoor games.

2. Myth: Asthma can be outgrown with age

Fact: The symptoms of asthma may improve as children get older but it is a lifelong condition. Some children may notice a marked decrease in asthma symptoms but in many of the cases, symptoms recur eventually.

3. Myth: Asthma medications stop working over time

Fact: Asthma medicines remain an effective treatment if used regularly and as directed by the doctor. Taking the right dose of medications will ensure they do not lose their effectiveness.

Can you prevent asthma in your child?

There is no proven way through which one can prevent asthma. However, you can always take steps to reduce the risk of developing asthma through measures like:

  • Reducing the child’s exposure to allergens in the air
  • Avoiding outdoor activities on days when the air quality is poor
  • Keeping the house free from mould and insects like cockroaches

With inputs from G S Kailash, Pulmonologist, MBBS, MD - Pulmonary Medicine, Diploma in Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases, Chennai.

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