Taking Care of a Child With Asthma
If you are a mother of a child with asthma, you join the ranks of many other women dealing with this challenging condition. Asthma is the leading cause of chronic illness in children, affecting 7 to 10 percent of all children, and twice as many boys as girls. In about half of all children with asthma, the condition becomes obvious by age three.
The basic cause of the lung abnormality in asthma is not yet known but the best management approach involves a team of parent, child and health care provider. Working together, this team can identify and watch for asthma symptoms and individual triggers that initiate asthma episodes.
A good way to develop a treatment plan (or modify an existing one that may not be working well) is to evaluate your child’s most recent attack. You can take this description to your health care provider to help them learn a lot about both your child’s asthma and the best treatment approach.
Try to answer the following questions soon after an attack:
- Was coughing involved? Determine when it occurred and how long it lasted.
- Was wheezing involved? When did it start, and was it provoked by exercise, a cold or an allergy?
- Was there mucus in the chest and throat? How long was it present?
- Was your child short of breath?
- What were the possible triggers? Illness (colds, headache, earache), molds, foods, chemicals, dust, cigarette smoke or cold weather?
- Did you “sense” that your child was about to have an attack?
- Did your child forget to take a medication?
Children with asthma usually exhibit early warning signs of an impending attack. Learn to be a keen observer so you can help ward off an attack before it becomes serious.
According to the American Lung Association, early warning signs include:
|An appearance that is anxious, pale and sweaty||Hunched-over body posture|
|Restlessness during sleep||Fatigue|
|Coughing and clearing of the throat||Breathing that is fast, noisy and labored|
Children who display these symptoms should be helped to relax and moved away from any triggers. You should review your written treatment plan, institute any measures set by your health care provider and call them if the symptoms don’t go away.
As yet there is no cure for asthma, but it can be controlled with proper treatment. Your child can use the medicine prescribed by their health care provider to prevent or relieve their symptoms, and can learn ways to manage each episode. Most kids with asthma can gain control of the disease and lead an active life.
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