Asthma is one of the common serious chronic diseases in childhood, yet it is difficult to label asthma in infancy and childhood. It is a disease that can cripple a childhood and make then depended on inhalers and medication. Unfortunately at present there is no definite cure for asthma, however the same can be managed by detecting the ailment at the right time. Management through the right specialist also helps.
Signs and Symptoms associated with Asthma:
Common symptoms are:
Coughing; especially frequent intermittent cough
Wheezing (whistling sound while taking breaths)
Difficulty in sucking or eating
Shortness of breath
Chest congestion or tightness
Very pale or bluish discoloration of face and lips
These symptoms usually exacerbate during night time and early morning or with exercise.
What are the risk factors associated with Asthma?
Risk factors associated are nasal allergies, allergic skin rash, food allergies, family history of asthma or other allergies.
Common triggers that can precipitate asthma attack in a vulnerable child are :
Viral infections like common cold
Air pollutants such as smoke, tobacco, exposure to common allergens like dust mites, pollen
Weather changes or extremes of weather
Sometimes increased physical activity
How is asthma diagnosed and managed?
Diagnosing asthma in younger children before 5years is difficult because lung function tests are difficult to perform and analyze in them. It is based purely on signs and symptoms and its severity in background of suggestive history.
Managing asthma can be challenging in childhood because of need to identify and avoid allergens and strict adherence to prescribed treatment is bit difficult to achieve. Medicines to treat symptoms are usually given in inhaled forms; they are given either by nebulizer or inhaler with spacer and face mask. Common drugs are bronchodilators, anticholinergic and sometimes steroids.
Management plans for Asthma:
Identification and elimination of all precipitating factors/allergens.
Good compliance to prescribed medications.
Proper use of inhalers with spacer, and its hygiene maintenance.
Regular visit to asthma clinic and development of an asthma care plan after discussion with treating physician.
Keep good records of exacerbation episodes and medications compliance chart.
Be aware of danger signs, prompt identification of worsening of symptoms and early arrival to medical facility.