Watching a child struggling to breathe can be extremely stressful. Here are a few facts about childhood asthma that will help you handle the condition if your little one has it.
By Dr Ayesha Shahnaz
Asthma is a condition that affects the airways (windpipes). The symptoms occur when the airways get narrower over time because of various factors.
Asthma can affect anyone and can run in families. It most commonly starts in childhood.
The symptoms can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms are difficulty in breathing and wheezing (a high whistling sound the patient’s chest makes when she cannot breathe easily). The child may also complain of a cough and tightness in the chest. The symptoms are often worse at night or early in the morning.
There are several factors that can cause an asthma attack such as
Asthma is a clinical diagnosis based on the patient’s history and a physical examination. However, in some situations, pulmonary function tests (PFTs) or peak flow can aid the diagnosis. Please ask your doctor for details.
For most people, the symptoms can be prevented with the appropriate use of medicines. Inhalers are the best way to treat asthma. They deliver a small quantity of the medicines to the airways and lungs directly. There are different types of inhalers.
These inhalers are used to ease the symptoms. They make the airways open wider and are called bronchodilators.
These inhalers should be used every day to prevent the symptoms from developing. The medicine used in this kind of inhaler is a steroid.
If your child has asthma, you can’t wish it away. But, knowing more about the condition and how to tackle it can make it easier for you to deal with it.
Dr Ayesha Shahnaz is a Consultant Paediatric Pulmonologist at Apollo Children’s Hospitals, Chennai.
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