Asthma in Children
Asthma occurs at any age but is most commonly seen in children under the age of ten. It is an allergic condition (and a reversible condition) characterized by spasm of the smooth muscle of the bronchi, edema (swelling) of the mucous membranes (lining) of the lungs, and accumulation of thick mucus.
Children with asthma may show signs and experience symptoms that range from acute episodes of wheezing, shortness of breath, and cough followed by a quiet period to a relatively continuous pattern of chronic symptoms that fluctuate in severity. The onset of an attack may appear abruptly or develop gradually.
Many factors can precipitate an asthma attack, including pollutants, smoke, rapid changes in environmental temperature (especially cold), physical and psychological stress, and infections in the respiratory tract or nearby structures (such as the sinuses and ears).
An acute asthma attack can be serious and require immediate medical attention.
Natural Remedies for Asthma
• Allergy-proof your home to avoid as many airborne allergens as possible. For instance:
- pets, carpeting, upholstered furniture, and other surfaces that collect allergens should be removed
- bed linen should be washed every week in hot water with a detergent that is additive- and fragrance-free
- install an air purifier.
• Identify any possible food allergens. Eggs, fish, nuts, milk, wheat, citrus, and chocolate are common food allergens. Elimination diets have been successful in treating asthma in children.
• Eliminate food additives, including preservatives, artificial flavorings, and artificial colors.
• Increase your child's intake of omega-3 fatty acids that contain EPA and DHA (found in cold water fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, and halibut). If fish was identified as a food allergen, speak with your health care provider.
• Include foods high in antioxidants (especially vitamin C and E, beta carotene, zinc, selenium, and copper). Antioxidants can protect the lungs from free radicals that can stimulate bronchial constriction.
• Flavonoids can play a role in the treatment of asthma in children. Flavonoids enhance the effectiveness of vitamin C, can control inflammation, and protect cells from free radicals. Virtually all fruits and vegetables contain flavonoids. Foods that are high in flavonoids include berries, apples, tomatoes, onions, and apricots.
Natural remedies for asthma in children can be helpful and may even cure the problem; however, it is important to continue seeking medical advice from a health care provider.
Image courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (NLM).
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