Asthma and wheezing disorders
What is Asthma?
Asthma is an allergic disease with inflammation of the airways. During an acute attack, the airways are narrowed due to spasm and swelling of the wall of airways. There are also thick secretions blocking the airways.
Many children also have allergy of skin, nose or eyes associated. Having a family history of any forms of allergy make your child more likely to have asthma and other allergic diseases. Environmental exposure to allergens and triggers are important factors for development of asthma.
Your child will have difficulty in breathing, wheezing, coughing or chest tightness and lots of phlegm. Symptoms are usually worse at night or early in the morning, sometimes waking a child from sleep. Some children might have cough as the only symptom. Symptoms usually come and go, may be mild but persisted. Exposure to the allergens / triggers can make your child worse.
There is no curative drug for asthma at the moment. Appropriate use of drugs and good compliance is the key for control of the disease and to keep your child having usual activities. Most of the drugs for asthma are in the form of inhalers.
For children with mild and infrequent attacks, they may only need one inhaler (bronchodilator) for use as reliever when having symptoms. Some children may also need a preventive medication for daily use to maintain control. Inhaled corticorsteroids is the commonest and most effective preventive medication for children with persistent symptoms. Inhaled steroids are safe and serious side effects seen with use of oral steroids are uncommon. A small reduction in final adult height may be seen in children on long term inhaled steroids.
Some children may respond to an oral prevention medication (Leukotrienes antagonist) which can be used a single therapy or in addition to inhaled steroids. Side effects are mild, mood disturbances have been reported.
Avoid allergens / triggers
- Keep your child away from smoking areas. Parents and household members should quit smoking. Avoid burning incense at home.
- If your child has exercise-induced symptoms, avoid outdoor exercise during cold dry days or polluted areas. Discuss with your doctor on use of relievers before exercise.
- Keep home environment clean and avoid dust exposure. Some asthmatic children are allergic to the wastes of the house dust mites which are tiny bugs present all over places with dust especially in beddings, curtains and furniture.
- There is no need to restrict diet for most asthma children. Discuss with your doctor if you think the asthma symptoms are related to food. Maintain a balanced diet and encourage good eating habit.