It is very easy for people to describe how they’re feeling at any point in time.
This is because they have full control of their bodies and can make meaningful sentences to drive their points home. This is not so for a child.
Though a child can describe with gestures and half-baked sentences what they need, they can’t tell you exactly how their bodies feel or whether or not they react to certain things in their environment. Hence, close attention should be paid to our younger ones to ensure proper care and safety at all times.
Asthma is a condition that occurs in both children and adults. Though it can be easily managed in adults, it can be difficult to manage in a child. At some point in life, we may have experienced shortness of breath or inability to breathe well mostly as a result of the common cold. This experience can be very difficult but they recover in a short time.
For an asthmatic person, however, there’s no recovery and the pain and inability to breathe goes beyond mere symptoms of the common cold.
Asthma is a continuous chronic, irritation of airways in the lungs. This makes the lungs susceptible to periods of forced breathing, otherwise known as “asthma attacks”. Certain triggers set off this irritation, however, in some cases, there are no triggers at all.
These triggers include:
- Allergies such as dust, pollen and so on.
- Exercises or activity.
- feeding in infants
- smoking or other air pollutants
- expressing strong emotions such as crying or laughing
- extreme weather conditions
- Gastrointestinal reflux
So far, asthma has no cure. It can only be managed with medication and proper care. There is, therefore need to avoid these triggers as much as possible to reduce the frequency of attacks.
An adult can easily discover what sets off his attacks but a child cannot.
To protect your child, extra care must be taken to identify signs and symptoms of asthma, identify triggers, administer medication and prevent or reduce exposure to triggers.
Signs And Symptoms Of Asthma In Children
Asthma can be identified by using breathing exercises. Symptoms such as wheezing and coughing may be clear indications of asthma. It is quite easy to identify these in adults but a bit difficult to notice in children. These symptoms can arise from other health issues other than asthma and most children cannot practice breathing exercises so well that the doctor can easily give a diagnosis.
However, for children below 5, the following may be considered signs and symptoms of asthma:
- Shortness of Breath
- A feeling of discomfort or tightness in the chest region
The intensity of these symptoms can vary depending on so many factors, for instance at night, symptoms may worsen and there may be short periods of coughing and wheezing as well as longer periods. Also, there may be changes in symptoms based on infections and allergies.
When To Seek Help
Asthma attacks, when detected on time can be managed. However, a guardian should be able to detect when the situation has gone out of his control and the child requires emergency treatment.
Signs And Symptoms Of Emergency Situations In Children Under 5
- When the child starts gasping for air.
- When the child finds it difficult to speak because of the restricted airflow.
- When the child breaths so hard that the abdomen is sucked under the ribs.
Practical Steps To Managing A Child’s Asthma Condition
- Keep Records.
- Monitor and keep records of the child’s symptoms and treatment schedule.
- Take note of the circumstances surrounding an attack to figure out the child’s triggers.
- Record the time, duration and response to treatment.
- If there are side effects to the medications the child is taking, take an appropriate record of them.
- Observe and record the pattern of the child’s asthma attacks, this will help you know when the pattern changes, and also record when there is a change in the pattern.
- Avoid Triggers, when you discover what triggers the child’s asthma attacks, try as much as possible to keep him or her away from them.
- Make necessary adjustments to make the home trigger free, talk to the child’s care facility or school and get them to take adequate care to avoid triggers in their environment. Also, keep products that can trigger attacks out of the reach of the child.
- Teach the child hygienic practices such as washing hands regularly and practice them as well.
- Educate the child on asthma and his or her triggers so he/she can avoid them.
- Checking pollen count reports regularly helps.
- Have an Action Plan, and create a detailed plan of action that can guide you in the event of an emergency.
This plan should contain:
- The child’s name and age.
- The doctor’s name, and contact.
- Type of medication, time of medication and dosage.
- Asthma triggers.
- A record of the child’s breathing rate.
- What to do during an attack and how to administer medications.
There is no known cause of asthma. It usually develops from childhood and stays throughout adulthood. There is no need to lose children over this condition. With the right understanding and careful management and control, we can raise strong children who will grow to fight this dreaded condition.