Asthma in children
Asthma is the leading cause of school absences, resulting in a loss of 10 million school days. Many children must manage their asthma at school with medications or other preventive measures. Approximately 10% of children experience exercise-induced asthma. Asthma accounts for more hospitalizations in children than any other chronic illness. Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood. An estimated 4 million children under 18 years old have had an asthma
attack in the past 12 months, and many others have "hidden" or undiagnosed asthma. Asthma is the most common cause of school absenteeism due to chronic disease. Asthma is a disease of all age groups, but the steepest recent increases in asthma cases have been among the young.
Asthma is the most common chronic condition of childhood. The prevalence and severity of childhood asthma have increased substantially in recent years. Age-related differences in diagnostic and therapeutic considerations in childhood require special attention. Asthma can begin in infancy, although rarely in the first few months of life. Wheezing is a common symptom encountered in infancy through the first 2 to 3 years of life and may be a transient phenomenon in this age group. Many children develop persistent or recurrent wheezing, i.e., asthma. Persistent asthma that begins early is likely to be more severe. Atopy in the child, parental atopy or asthmatic history and maternal smoking are risk factors for persistent and recurrent asthma. Low lung function and maternal smoking are risk factors for transient wheezing.
Asthma symptoms can interfere with many school activities for children, as asthmatic children may have less stamina than other children. Asthma is a disease requiring self-management at home. But children are in school many hours a day, and they can't just leave their illness at home. As a result, asthma plays a role in the school life of children, including the need to take medications during school or take special preventive measures to avoid attacks. Many asthmatic children may try to avoid or limit their involvement in physical activities to prevent the coughing and wheezing that may occur. Cough, wheeze, retractions, and increased respiratory rate are common quantifiable signs of an asthma attack in children. Children younger than five are more frequently hospitalized than older asthma patients, about three times as often as children aged five to fifteen. Additionally, asthma is the leading cause of school absence of children attributed to a chronic condition. Children with asthma do not often identify chest tightness, because they are often so used to the feeling that they are unaware that it is a warning sign. For parents, often the only observable symptom of chest tightness is recurring coughing spells. Up to 80% of children with asthma develop symptoms before the age of five. For this reason, the proper diagnosis of childhood asthma relies heavily on parents' observations about their child's symptoms.
Attacks can flare up unexpectedly, drug side effects may influence school performance, and the stress of living with a chronic disease may cause psychological problems that play out at school. Exercise-induced asthma presents its own set of problems for gym class and other physical activity. For optimum control, understanding and relationships are necessary among the child, the family, the school and the health-care providers.
With proper diagnosis, monitoring and treatment, individuals with asthma can engage in regular physical activity and can live normal healthy lives. Once asthma is diagnosed, proper treatment and management can occur. Often the child must use a peak flow meter to measure the flow of air from the lungs. Often medications are also used to prevent and improve symptoms. Once the child has been diagnosed and is receiving asthma treatment, the child should be encouraged to participate in normal physical activities as much as possible. While many parents feel the need to prevent their asthmatic children from engaging in physical activity, aerobic exercise is very important to the asthmatic child to improve airway function.
Currently, there are no preventive measures or cure for asthma; however, children and adolescents who have asthma can still lead quality, productive lives if they control their asthma. Asthma can be controlled by taking medication and by avoiding contact with environmental "triggers" for asthma. Environmental triggers include cockroaches, dust mites, furry pets, mold, tobacco smoke, and certain chemicals. Although asthma cannot be cured, it can be treated by developing a management plan. This consists of a daily treatment plan to prevent and control airway inflammation and an action plan that describes what to do when your child has an acute asthma episode. Medications play a primary role in asthma treatment, especially inhaled corticosteroids and beta2-agonists. Lifestyle changes such as avoiding allergens are also important. Recognizing and treating asthma symptoms early may prevent severe symptoms that might require an emergency room visit or admission to the hospital.
More information on asthma
What is asthma? - Asthma is a chronic inflammatory respiratory disease characterized by periodic attacks of wheezing, shortness of breath, and a tight feeling in the chest.
What types of asthma are there? - Types of asthma include child-onset asthma, adult-onset asthma, exercise-induced asthma, cough-variant asthma, occupational asthma, nocturnal asthma.
What's bronchial asthma? - Bronchial asthma is a disease of the lungs in which an obstructive ventilation disturbance of the respiratory passages evokes a feeling of shortness of breath.
What is exercise-induced asthma? - Exercise-induced asthma is a form of asthma that some people have during or after physical activity. Exercise-induced asthma is common.
What is adult-onset asthma? - Adult onset asthma generally is the onset of asthma for the first time in someone of middle age or older. Adult-onset asthma develops after age 20.
What is status asthmaticus? - Status asthmaticus is a severe asthma episode that does not respond to standard treatment. Status asthmaticus is caused by severe bronchospasm.
What causes asthma? - Asthma is caused by inhaling an allergen that sets off the chain of biochemical and tissue changes leading to airway inflammation, bronchoconstriction, and wheezing.
What're the asthma triggers? - Many risk factors have been linked to triggering asthma attacks. There are two basic types of asthma triggers, allergic triggers, non-allergic triggers.
Asthma and allergy - Asthma attacks (worsening of asthma symptoms) can be triggered by allergies. Allergy is the leading cause of asthma.
What is an asthma attack? - An asthma attack occurs when the small and medium-sized airways become inflamed and constricted after being exposed to a trigger.
Asthma in children - Asthma is the most common chronic condition of childhood. Asthma symptoms can interfere with many school activities for children.
Asthma and pregnancy - During pregnancy, asthma or asthma episodes will become worse for an estimated one-third of pregnant women, particularly women who have severe asthma.
Asthma in adults and older people - Identifying asthma in the elderly can be difficult because asthma symptoms can be confused with symptoms of heart or lung diseases.
What're the complications of asthma? - Uncontrolled asthma in pregnant women puts them at higher risk for complications that can include early labor, hypertension, gestational diabetes.
What are the symptoms of asthma? - The symptoms of asthma include labored breathing, constriction of the chest, coughing and gasping usually brought on by allergies.
What're the warning signs of asthma? - Most people with asthma have warning signs before symptoms appear. There are many warning signs of an asthma episode.
How is asthma diagnosed? - The diagnosis of asthma is made on the basis of typical symptoms and signs. Positive allergy tests support a diagnosis of asthma.
What're the treatments for asthma? - Treatment of asthma is aimed at avoiding known allergens and respiratory irritants and controlling symptoms and airway inflammation through medication.
What quick relief (rescue) medications cure asthma? - Short-acting beta-agonists are the most commonly used asthma rescue medications. Anticholinergics are another class of asthma drugs.
Long-term asthma control medications - Combinations of steroids and other medications are effective for both treating and preventing asthma attacks in patients with moderate to severe asthma.
What're asthma inhalers? - Most asthma drugs are inhaled using special devices or nebulizers. Two common types include dry powder asthma inhalers and metered-dose asthma inhalers.
What're asthma nebulizers? - Asthma nebulizers can be used with all classes of inhaled medications but are most commonly used with short-acting beta2 agonists and ipratropium bromide.
How to control acute asthma attacks? - Acute asthma is an acute exacerbation of wheezing, unresponsive to usually effective therapy and necessitating care in an emergency room or hospital ward.
How to manage chronic asthma symptoms? - The aims of management are to recognize asthma, to abolish symptoms, to restore normal or best possible long term airway function.
What asthma relievers are available? - Asthma reliever is a drug that provides relief from asthma symptoms and is the most commonly used asthma medication.
What asthma preventers are available? - Asthma preventers are to be used twice a day regardless of whether your child has symptoms of asthma.
What's the treatment for childhood asthma? - The goals of asthma therapy are to prevent child from having chronic and troublesome symptoms, to maintain child's lung function.
What's the treatment for asthma in the elderly? - Diagnosis and treatment of asthma can be more complicated in people age 65 and older than in those who are younger.
What can be done to prevent asthma? - Avoiding known allergens and respiratory irritants can reduce asthma symptoms. People with asthma should minimize risk for respiratory tract infections.