Asthma Triggers and Treatments
Background About Asthma
There are about 19 million people in the United States with asthma, and the percentage of children with asthma is 8.2 percent. It is one of the most common chronic illnesses in the U.S. The number of people with asthma is continuing to increase annually. Asthma is quite common in families with a history of allergies.
This disorder causes the airways to swell and become narrow, which leads to wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing and chest tightness. Inflammation in the airways causes asthma. During an asthma attack the muscles surrounding the airways tighten, and there is swelling of the airway passages.
In terms of populations that are most affected, children are more likely to have asthma, as are African Americans (see chart below). More women than men get asthma, except in the case of children. More boys have asthma than girls. Diagnosing children under the age of five is difficult.
The duration of asthma attacks can be just a few minutes, or they can last up to several days. Some people take two times longer to get air out of their lungs than to breathe in during an attack. Others can stop breathing temporarily.
Recognize emergency symptoms:
- Extremely difficult to breathe
- Lips and face turning blue
- Fast heart rate
- Extreme anxiety due to shortness of breath
- Profuse perspiration
- Possible drowsiness or confusion
- Chest pain possible due to tightness
Asthma Airway Narrowing
Asthma in Children
There are several facts a parent should learn when they have an asthmatic child. It is important to understand everything about this disease, and they must be able to recognize the signs of an oncoming attack. I
t is helpful to learn to judge the severity of the attack. If your child is missing school due to asthma, then the treatment program should be re-evaluated by their physician. No one in the home should smoke.
Learn the triggers of your child's asthma and remove as many as possible. Teach your child as much self-care as they are old enough to understand. When children understand precautions and treatments, they will make better decisions, and they may be less frightened when an attack occurs. It is important for the school to know your child has this disease.
Asthma Attack in Your Child
There are many triggers that may cause an asthma attack.
- Tobacco smoke and this includes second hand smoke
- Animal pet hairs - Cats and dogs are common triggers
- Chemicals in foods - common foods also - shellfish, milk, nuts, eggs, fish, soy, wheat
- Dust - Change furnace filters frequently and air purifiers are helpful.
- Cockroach allergen - Remove water or food sources that might attract them.
- Weather changes - particularly cold weather
- Mold - A dehumidifier is helpful and remove mold around tubs in the bathrooms.
- Burning leaves or grass
- Exercise induced asthma is common
- Common Medications - Aspirins, penicillin, anti-inflammatory medications
- Infections - Sinus infections, flu, colds, respiratory infections and acid reflux
- Pollens - Track the pollen count, and stay indoors when the count is high.
Treating Asthma (Asthma #2)
Treatment and Summary for Asthma
It is important to follow the instructions of your physician and take all the prescribed medications. Work to determine the specific triggers for asthma, and remove as many as possible. When the weather is extremely cold it is helpful to stay indoors, and it is also a good idea to avoid being outdoors when the humidity is high.
Stay healthy by practicing good hand washing and avoiding anyone who is ill. Always get an annual flu shot. If strenuous exercise triggers asthma, choose a sport that is more tolerable. Always keep an inhaler close by in case of an attack.
Prevention is always the best choice.
The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.