Asthma in Children
Asthma is the most prevalent chronic condition in children, affecting about 9 million in the United States alone. That averages to approximately one in 10 children of school age with asthma, and the rate continues to rise, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. The condition causes some 13 million missed school days. Asthma is caused by inflammation in the child’s airways and cannot be cured. Guidelines and treatment of children with asthma help by monitoring triggers, preventing attacks, or treating them when they happen.
Asthma attacks often have triggers, or catalysts that set up the immune system response. An initial part of treating asthma in children requires learning what the triggers are. Allergy skin tests, blood tests, and careful observation of symptoms after exposure can help isolate what causes attacks in a child. Allergens, exercise, dust, pollution, cockroaches, weather changes, smoke, and mold all can trigger an asthma attack. Some asthmatics are sensitive to fumes, such as those in cleaners and perfumes.
Asthma and allergies often coincide, especially in children. An estimated 29 percent of children with food allergies also have asthma and approximately 70 percent have an allergy. One of the methods of prevention is avoiding triggers. Keeping pets out of the bedroom and bathing them weekly can help children avoid asthma attacks. The home should be kept as free of dust as possible. A clean home reduces asthma attacks. HEPA filters in the furnace and vacuum cleaners help reduce allergens such as pollen from the air. Mattress and pillow covers, as well as washing bedding in hot water, reduces allergens at night. Many children have asthma symptoms such as coughing, during the night. Keep windows closed during high pollen days, and have the child avoid being outside during peak pollen hours–usually between 5 and 10 in the morning.
Guidelines and treatment of children with asthma includes at least one medication, though possibly more. Allergy medication or immunotherapy treats underlying causes. Controller medications help prevent asthma symptoms and are generally taken every day. Some options include Advair, Singulair, and Pulmicort. To treat an attack as it occurs, a bronchodilator is used. These can be administered through an inhaler or nebulizer. Medications for quick relief of symptoms include Albuterol and MaxAir. Creating an asthma action plan helps with treatment by tracking attacks, peak flow meter readings, and medications. Recording these helps the health care provider come up with a personalized treatment plan for each child.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: Asthma Statistics
University of Maryland Medical Center: Asthma Guide
University of Maryland Medical Center: Asthma Management
MayoClinic.com: Childhood Asthma
Kidshealth.org: Managing Asthma