Air is supplied to the lungs for purification through narrow tubes. When these tubes get inflamed and narrowed, it leads to a chronic condition called asthma. With children spending more time indoors, and increased exposure to pollution, dust and second-hand smoke, there is an increased rate of childhood asthma. Asthma can be triggered by allergens (pollen, mold and fur), cold air and changes in weather, exercise, flu and common cold.
Asthma in children is characterized by frequent spells of coughing, reduced energy, weakness or tiredness during play, rapid breathing, shortness or loss of breath, chest tightness or pain, wheezing (whistling sound when breathing), and tightened neck and chest muscles. When you present to the clinic with these symptoms, the doctor evaluates your child’s medical history, performs a thorough physical examination, and may order a chest X-ray, blood tests or allergy skin tests to confirm the diagnosis. A lung-function test called spirometry may also be performed to measure the amount of air in the lungs and the rate at which it is exhaled.
Asthma is primarily managed with medication and by avoiding triggers that bring on symptoms. Medication may include long-term control medicines that should be taken on a daily basis seasonally, and short-acting bronchodilators that act as a rescue medication for immediate relief. Asthma medication is delivered through a metered dose inhaler, dry powder inhaler or a nebulizer, which converts liquid medicine into a fine mist for your child to inhale. You and your child will be taught how to use them correctly to ensure a consistent dosage. Your child’s doctor may recommend allergy-desensitization shots given at regular intervals to control asthma triggered by allergens. There is no cure for asthma, only constant management in collaboration with your child’s doctor.