Approximately five million people under the age of eighteen suffer from asthma in this country. The disease, once almost unknown in our society, is becoming more and more common with each passing year as more and more of our youth population is diagnosed. Between 1980 and 1993, for example, the rate of death as a result of this disease almost doubled in the U.S. Childhood asthma is a real and severe problem, but most of us know very little about it including whether or not our child is at risk. Here is what you need to know about the disease, its causes, symptoms, and its treatment.
Asthma is a respiratory condition that is caused by restricted airways that impede breathing. It can cause shortness of breath, trouble breathing, and related symptoms. Airway restriction occurs when the body’s respiratory system is exposed to an irritant or allergen, triggering a normal immune response. The body’s reaction to this type of suspicious substance results in inflammation of the lung tissue, constriction of the throat muscles, and increased circulation of mucosal fluid.
In a real immune response, these behaviors can protect the body from infection, but in the case of an asthmatic, the body’s immune system is unnecessarily sensitive. It operates with a hair trigger that results in terrifying and dangerous attacks that leave the victim desperately struggling to breathe normally.
This disease is characterized by temporary attacks but it is chronic and will require treatment. If your child is diagnosed with the disease, then you will need to take a proactive approach to prevention, education, and treatment.
The first consideration will be to observe and consider what triggers your child’s attacks. This is different for every asthmatic, but there are some generally observable commonalities. Attacks are, for the most part, caused by inhaled irritants. Many sufferers are triggered by pollutants like smog or smoke, chemicals like perfume or paint fumes, and allergens like dust or mold. Other factors can also trigger attacks. Things like viral infections, exercise and even stress can cause asthma attacks.
Once you have identified your child’s triggers, you can work to modify your child’s environment for their comfort and protection. Keeping them away from triggers and preventing asthma attacks will become easier. The next consideration for a parent of an asthmatic is treatment. In all likelihood you will need to settle on a course of treatment with your doctor before you know what triggers the problem, but this information can help you to keep that treatment on the right track.
Asthmatics will generally need to be placed on some sort of medication. If the case is mild, that medication may simply be designed to provide immediate ease during an attack. A more serious case of asthma will require a daily controller medication, however, as well as an immediate remedy for the problem.
The best way to cope with the dangers that asthma presents is to know your child and be proactive about their health and environment.