This article explains asthma in children and newborns, how to determine if a child has asthma, how is asthma diagnosed in children, what are the methods for treating asthma in children, what are the main goals in the treatment of asthma in a child and lots more
How to determine if a child has asthma?
Not all children show the same symptoms. Symptoms can differ even for the same child – it all depends on age. The following signs and symptoms may appear:
- A frequent cough, especially during physical activity (during games), at night or during laughter or crying.
- A chronic cough (which may be the only symptom).
- A lost desire to play active games.
- Frequent breathing (periodically).
- Complaints of contraction or pain in the chest area.
- A whistling sound during inspiration or exhalation, which is called wheezing.
- Strong chest movement, which causes shortness of breath. These movements are called retraction.
- Shortness of breath, shortness of breath, lack of air.
- The feeling of compression in the neck and chest.
- Feeling of weakness or fatigue.
Although these symptoms are characteristic of asthma, the physician should examine the child for other diseases that can also cause respiratory failure before making a diagnosis and prescribing treatment. Nearly half of newborns and children who have symptoms such as shortness of breath or a cough (even if these symptoms respond to asthma treatment) do not show asthma up to 6 years. That is why many paediatricians, describing the state of the child, use terms like “jet respiratory tract disease” or bronchitis (not sticking a label to an infant – an asthmatic).
How often does asthma occur in children?
Asthma is the main cause of chronic diseases in children. It affects about 10-12% of children around the world, and for unknown reasons, this figure continues to grow. Asthma can develop at any age (even in very elderly people), but in children, the first symptoms can appear only after 5 years.
Here are the main risk factors that affect the development of asthma in a child:
- Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or eczema (an allergic rash on the skin)
- Hereditary predisposition to asthma
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Low birth weight at birth
- Smoking of mother during pregnancy or frequent child finding near smokers
- Development of a child in a family with low income
Why increase the percentage of asthma among children?
Why more and more children get asthma, it is not known. Some experts suggest that children spend too little time in the open air, and also often in places of severe pollution, are passive smokers. Others believe that children have become less likely to suffer from traditional childhood illnesses, as a result of which they do not develop sufficiently strong immunity against bacteria and viruses.
How is asthma diagnosed in children?
The diagnosis is usually based on a history of illness, troubling symptoms and physical examination of the child. Remember: it often happens that before the child’s examination by a doctor, the symptoms of asthma can go away. Therefore, parents play an important role. They help the doctor understand the signs and symptoms that are manifested in the child.
Case history and description of symptoms: The physician should be aware of any existing or past illnesses associated with difficulty breathing. In addition, the doctor can ask questions about a hereditary predisposition to asthma, allergies, a painful skin condition called eczema, and other lung diseases. It is very important that you correctly and fully describe the child’s symptoms (cough, whistling during breathing, pain or a feeling of contraction in the chest), and especially when and how often these symptoms manifest themselves.
Physical Examination: During the physical examination, the doctor listens to the heart and lungs of the child, and also checks the nose or eyes for an allergic reaction in the child.
Tests and tests: X-rays are often used, and children older than 6 years undergo a simple test of lung function – spirometry. The spirometer measures the volume of the lungs and how quickly the air is exhaled.
The results of such testing help the doctor determine at what stage the disease is. Other tests can also be used to determine the causative agents of asthma. These tests include: testing for allergic skin rashes, a blood test (radioallergosorbent test), radiography. These tests show whether the body has a fistula or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) virus, which can complicate the course of asthma. Now a new type of test begins to appear, during which the amount of nitric acid in the breath is measured.
What are the methods for treating asthma in children?
Avoid contact with asthma triggers, regular medication and constant monitoring of the symptoms of the disease are the main ways to control asthma in a child at any age. Children suffering from asthma should be protected from any source of the smoke. And also the correct intake of medicines is the basis of the child’s normal state.
Based on the medical history and the severity of the symptoms, the doctor develops a treatment program. The program describes when and how a child should take medicines, what to do if the child becomes worse (transition of asthma to the yellow or red zone) and when it is necessary to call an ambulance. After receiving a written copy of the program, make sure that you understand it correctly and, if any questions arise, immediately ask them the doctor.
The treatment program is a very important point in the successful treatment of asthma in a child. Keep the program always at hand: it will serve you or your child with a reminder of daily compulsory actions, as well as a guide to action if the child becomes worse. Do not forget to give a copy of the program to the kindergarten teacher or your child’s school teacher, so that he knows what to do if the child has a sudden asthma attack outside the home.
My child is only a child. How should I give him medicine?
Newborns and children can take the same medications as older children and adults. In chronic asthma or wheezing, newborns are given inhaled steroids. However, taking medications and doses are significantly different for children under 4 years (eg, aerosols and respiratory masks).
Scientists recommend step-by-step regulation of asthma in children from 0 to 4 years. The first stage involves the use of fast-acting drugs (eg, albuterol) for intermittent attacks of exacerbation of symptoms. Taking a small dose of an inhaled steroid or cromolyn is the next stage of treatment. Then the intensity of the treatment of the disease is focused on controlling asthma. If asthma is amenable to control for three months, the doctor can reduce the amount of medication or “go down” to the stage below. Consult your doctor about taking medications and their doses.
Depending on the age of the child, it is possible to use inhaled medications or liquid medications, for example,
aerosol preparations, also known as respiratory devices. Aerosol converts the liquid medicine into steam. And the child breathes this vapour through the respiratory mask. This procedure lasts 10-15 minutes and can be repeated up to 4 times a day. The paediatrician must tell you how much you can do this procedure.
Depending on the age of the child, the doctor can prescribe a metered-dose inhaler with a separator. Separator – compartment, which is fixed on the inhaler and restrains the injection of the medicine. This allows the child to inhale the medicine into the lungs at a time in such quantities as it is convenient. Talk with your child’s doctor about the possible use of an inhaler with a separator.
What are the main goals in the treatment of asthma in a child?
Asthma can not be cured, but it can be controlled. The goals of asthma treatment are listed below. If the treatment does not produce the proper results, then you should immediately contact the child’s attending physician. Your child should:
- Live an active and normal life.
- Prevent the development of chronic and constantly troubling symptoms.
- Attend school every day.
- It is good to live, play, play sports. This should not cause any difficulties.
- Stop urgent doctor visits, call an ambulance and hospitalization.
- Take and regulate the taking of medications to achieve minimal symptoms or their complete absence.
Having studied what asthma is and how it can be controlled, you will make an important step in maintaining your child’s health. Talk to your child’s doctor and ask about the disease itself, how to avoid pathogens, what medicines are taken and how to treat properly.
Does asthma go with age?
So much is still unknown about the lung function and asthma in newborns. At the same time, scientists believe that if newborns and older children have from 3 or more periods of wheezing (due to respiratory viral infections), the child’s chances of developing asthma in the future are 50/50. If the next child has asthma in the family, or the child is constantly surrounded by smokers or in the area of ??risk factors, the child has much more chances to get sick. Preventing asthma will not reduce this risk.
In addition, if the person’s airways are sensitive initially, they will remain so for life. However, in 50% of babies, a marked decrease in the manifestation of asthma symptoms by the time they become adults. Consequently, with age people “outgrow” the disease. Most of these children may experience symptoms of asthma again, already being adults. Unfortunately, one can not predict if asthma symptoms will appear in the future or not.