Raising A Child With Asthma
Asthma is currently the most common chronic illness in children and is the leading cause of school absences.
As any parent with an asthmatic child can tell you it's also the scariest. Asthma is an obstructive and chronic inflammatory lung disease.
Airways react to different stimuli, causing tightening of the muscle, increased mucus in the airway, and swelling of the lungs.
Although not the principal cause of asthma, strenuous exercise can also narrow the airways bringing on an attack during or after the activity. The difficulty breathing and familiar wheezing starts when the airways narrow. Watching your child grasp for every breath is heart-wrenching.
These tips will help you be more prepared.
Keep An Asthma Diary
- Notes on dates and times when wheezing or an attack occur will help identify your child's triggers. Pinpointing exactly what was happening at the time and noting the surroundings will identify the triggers and help work toward controlling or avoiding those triggers.
Keep A Clean House
- Almost every asthmatic child has a strong reaction to dust.
- Remove dust collectors like soft toys and knick-knacks.
- Carpets are harder to keep free of dust than hardwood floors, but if that is your only option use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
- Remove shoes at the door so you don't carry dirt and allergens in from outside.
- Using a micro-fiber cloth that traps dust is better than spraying furniture polish or cleaning products into the air.
Keep A Smoke Free Environment
- Make sure no-one smokes in your home or car. This includes visitors, no exceptions. Ask that they don't even smoke before a visit as it hangs on clothing. Don't worry about their feelings, your child''s health is more important.
Keep Your Home Pet Free
- Hair, dander, and even saliva from an animal could cause an asthma attack.
- If you already have a pet that you just can't part with try to keep it outside or in a separate room.
- Allow limited access when your child is having a good breathing day.
- Opt for a more asthma friendly pet like a hermit crab or goldfish.
- When a child is rundown they are more susceptible to colds or coughs that could trigger an attack.
- Make sure they get plenty of sleep.
- Plenty of fruit and vegetables along with a well balanced diet will keep them less vulnerable to illness.
Keep Your Eye On Colds
- When your child has a cold keep a close watch for early signs of difficult breathing.
- It is easier to manage symptoms in the early stages than after a full-blown attack.
- Familiarize yourself with these signs and have an action plan.
Keep An Asthma Action Plan Up To Date
- When first diagnosed, your child will be given an action plan by your doctor.
- This plan will tell you what to do when your child isn't feeling well and give instructions on the use of medications.
- Some doctors use peak flow meters and other go by symptoms to decide on a child's treatment. This should be included in your action plan.
- List emergency contacts, healthcare provider phone numbers, any known asthma triggers, and whether your child has weather related or exercise induced asthma.
- Make sure your child's medications are up-to-date.
- Rescue inhalers should be readily available.
- Children and their caregivers should know the proper procedure for use.
Keep Your Child Involved
- A child needs to understand their condition to the best of their ability and often ends up understanding better than anyone else.
- They should learn their own triggers and how to avoid them.
- At times they will need to speak up and take responsibility for their health.
Know When To Get To The ER
- Using a rescue inhaler repeatedly for flare-ups that don't go away after 5-10 minutes or return after a short time with no improvement.
- Changes in a child's color. Blueish-gray fingernails or lips.
- Suffering retractions. This is visible pulling in of the area between or below the ribs while trying to inhale.
- Constant wheezing does not subside after taking medications.
- If using a peak flow meter the reading falls below 50% or is in the red zone as described by your doctor.
- This may be the hardest for parents, but it is important to stay as calm as possible. If your child sees you get upset this may make them nervous and cause them to tighten up making it harder for them to breath.
- Make sure your child eats and sleeps well. Plenty of fruits and vegetables along with a balanced diet.
Asthma is the most common chronic disease in childhood, affecting about 6 million U.S. children.