About 17 million people in the United States have asthma. Asthma is the most common chronic illness among children. Untreated asthma can interfere with your child’s sleep, exercise, and school attendance. Uncontrolled asthma can lead to emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and even death.
The good news is that childhood asthma can be effectively treated with medications and lifestyle management—especially avoidance of allergies and triggers. With proper treatment, children with asthma should be able to participate in all sports and not be held back by their condition.
What is Asthma
How to know if you have asthma? Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs that prevents normal, easy breathing. The airways in the lungs or bronchial tubes allow air to come in and out of the lungs.
If you have asthma your airways are inflamed and become filled with mucus. As they become more swollen the muscles around the airways can tighten. This occurs when something triggers your symptoms. This makes it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs, causing symptoms such as:
- Coughing during the day or in bed at night
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
Can you develop Asthma? Asthma triggers can be respiratory infections such as the flu or common cold, exercise, cold air, allergens (cat dander, pollens, etc.), or irritants such as cigarette smoke. Understanding your asthma risk factors is important because avoidance can help reduce symptoms and asthma attacks.
The following inhaled irritants are common asthma triggers:
- Wood or tobacco smoke
- Vehicle Exhaust
- Air fresheners/room deodorizers
- Scented candles and incense
For many asthma sufferers, the timing of these symptoms is closely related to physical activity. However, some otherwise healthy people can develop asthma symptoms only when exercising. This is called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). Staying active is an important way to stay healthy, so asthma shouldn’t keep you on the sidelines. There is a treatment to keep your symptoms under control before, during, and after physical activity
Do I have asthma? A special breathing test, called spirometry, is used to diagnose and monitor asthma in patients more than 6 years old. Environmental allergy testing may also be recommended since these allergies cause up to 80 percent of all asthma in children and 50 percent of all asthma in adults.
Young children can be diagnosed with asthma, although no breathing tests can be done. The diagnosis is mainly based on a child’s symptoms, physical findings, and response to treatment.
There is no cure for asthma, but once it is properly diagnosed and a treatment plan is in place, you will be able to manage your condition and your quality of life will improve.
The symptoms can be controlled by avoiding triggers and taking medications correctly and consistently or as needed. The goal of asthma management is to help patients live without limitations.
Most people with asthma need to take daily medication to reduce the inflammation in their lungs. The medication might be in the form of a pill, an inhaler, or both.
People with asthma (including children over the age of 6) should also have a breathing test at least once a year to assess their lung function.
Some children “outgrow” asthma, and it is important to check in with their asthma specialist regularly as they grow to make sure they are getting the treatment that they need but not being over-medicated.