Maybe you’re familiar with the saying, “Life is not measured
by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath
It’s an inspiring sentiment. But if you have a child who struggles
with asthma, you probably process those words through an entirely different
filter than most. In America, more than 25 million children and adults
cope with the condition on a daily basis, according to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.
Asthma can be a chronic disease that can cause wheezing, coughing, tightness
in the chest, and breathlessness. Fortunately, asthma is treated with
inhaled albuterol and, in some cases, medication that treats inflammation
of the airways and helps prevent symptoms and attacks (inhaled corticosteroids)
Asthma can run in families, so if it runs in yours, be alert for its symptoms
when your children are young (generally, children with asthma display
symptoms by the time they are 5, but asthma can occur at any age).
Here are a few primary symptoms to watch for:
- Persistent coughing - tight cough and multiple coughs in a row (especially
- Wheezing or whistling upon exhaling
- Difficulty breathing and rapid breathing that causes the skin around your
child’s neck or ribs to pull in more than usual
In addition, here are a couple common asthma triggers that you can watch
for and help your child avoid:
- Irritants in the air including cigarette smoke and strong odors
- Allergens, including excessive pet dander and dust mites.
- Upper Respiratory Infection ( common cold) and other infections
As I mentioned, asthma can be controlled with the use of inhalers and medications
prescribed by your pediatrician. Because asthma symptoms and attacks can
come on suddenly, your child should always have his or her inhaler with
them wherever they go.
If you are concerned that your child has asthma, be sure to do the following:
- Make an appointment with your pediatrician. Your pediatrician can guide
you through the necessary steps to determine if your child has asthma,
and then formulate an action plan to help get, and keep, their asthma
- Make sure your child gets the influenza vaccination each year.
- Keep your house as dust-free and odor-free as possible, and don’t
allow anyone to smoke inside.
In the interest of brevity, I’ve only scratched the surface about
how to recognize and manage childhood asthma in this post. There is a
tremendous amount of additional helpful information online, including from the
American Lung Association, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and
While asthma can be a serious, lifelong medical condition, it is highly
treatable and in many cases many children may “outgrow” their
asthma. When managed properly under the care of a pediatrician, children
with asthma can enjoy moments in life that take their breath away …
in the most wondrous meaning of the phrase.
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