Asthma, a form of obstructive lung disease, is one of childhood’s most common chronic disorders. It occurs after a series of events cause a disruptive reaction in the airways.
The American Lung Association website quoted the most recent statistics available from the CDC stating that in 2011, 7.1 million children under the age of 18 were affected by asthma.
Of those children, 4.1 million suffered at least one asthma attack or episode in that year.
During an asthma attack, airways become narrowed due to a combination of several factors, such as “swelling of the lining, tightening of the muscle, and increased secretion of mucus in the airway,” according to the ALA.
Asthma attacks can be triggered by a variety of situations and children may have a unique reaction to each trigger. These triggers can include:
• Respiratory infections
• Secondhand smoke
• Air pollution
• Cold temperatures
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease, but because an asthma can have an acute flare-up or exacerbation, it can be life-threatening if not controlled. Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization in children under 15. Though deaths in children due to asthma are rare, they do happen.
In 2011, asthma caused the deaths of 169 children under the age of 15 out of a total of 3,345 asthma deaths that year. Older adults accounted for the majority of these deaths.
Is your child’s asthma well-controlled? Here are five ways to make sure it is:
1) Parents with children who are 4-11 years old can take the Childhood Asthma Control Test to help you know if their asthma is really well-controlled or not. Share the results with your health care provider.
Children aged 12 years and over can take the Asthma Control Test themselves, as they are old enough to be learning to take part in their own care.
2) Be aware of the things that trigger you child’s asthma and how to limit contact.
3) Educate yourself about the medication that Is prescribed for your child. Be sure to administer the right kind at the right time. Also educate your child on how to use an inhaler and how to recognize the warning signs of an asthma attack.
4) Work together with school administrators and your health care professionals to create an asthma action plan to deal with an asthma attack at school.
5) Communicate your child’s condition with anyone who will be caring for him or her throughout the year. Everyone from a Sunday School teacher to a soccer coach to a Girl Scout leader should know your child has asthma and what to do if an attack occurs, including what medication should be given.
The good news about asthma is that although it is a chronic disease, some children can outgrow it. Experts do caution that just because symptoms disappear for years or even decades, they could return.
Being conscious of your child’s disease and teaching your child how to manage it as he or she gets older can be the key to managing asthma successfully, and ensuring that your child still lives a full life.
Lung.org. Web. 11 May 2015. “Asthma and Children fact sheet.
Asthma.com. Web. 11 May 2015. Asthma: For Parents.
Webmd.com. Web. 11 May 2015. “Outgrowing Asthma: Is remission possible?”
Reviewed May 12, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith