Asthma is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases in the United States and across the globe. In fact, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology indicates that that 71 million kids under the age of 18 in the United States alone struggle with asthma.
A frequent reason why children miss school or are hospitalized, asthma sometimes involves debilitating respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath and persistent coughing. The pediatricians at Children's Physicians in West Palm Beach, FL wish to inform parents and children about the symptoms, triggers and treatments of asthma so families can lead healthier and happier lives.
Symptoms of Asthma
Symptoms of asthma vary in severity and kind from child to child (and from adult to adult, too). In general, scientists and physicians believe that underlying each asthma "attack" is inflammation of lung tissue in response to certain environmental triggers such as pollution, pollen, exercise, cold air, allergens, and the cold virus. This inflammation leads to airway constriction and symptoms such as:
- wheezing, a characteristic whistling sound when a child inhales and exhales
- retractions above and below the breast bone as the child inhales
- nasal flaring
- dry coughing
- lack of energy
- shortness of breath on exertion
- tight chest muscles
As an episode worsens, light-headedness, a rapid pulse and lowered blood oxygen levels result.
Treatment of Asthma
As age and development level allows, both parents and children must monitor asthma triggers and symptoms and administer routine medications and as needed treatments faithfully. Some families keep diaries of asthma symptoms to better avoid serious attacks.
Many children use bronchodilators in metered-dose inhalers to control sudden symptoms. Severe attacks may require more concentrated doses delivered through a nebulizer and courses of oral steroids to control inflammation. Depending on the age of the child, the West Palm Beach, FL pediatrician may prescribe a maintenance inhaler which contains both anti-inflammatory drugs and bronchodilators.
What Else to Know
Asthma is, at best, a quirky disease. It is, however, controllable, and parents may see their kids improve as they grow. Additionally, while sometimes exercise aggravates respiratory symptoms, athletics and being active are good for children. Just be consistent with taking prescribe medications, monitor symptoms, and air quality and keep that inhaler handy.
For More Information
Drs. Bideau, Pineiro, and Niewiadomski-Ayala encourage parents to contact the office at Children's Physicians in West Palm Beach, FL any time they have questions or concerns about their children's asthma symptoms. Our common goal is the best health possible for all kids. Call (561) 626-4000.