What is asthma, exactly? To put it simply, it’s an inflammatory disease of the airways, where passages to the lungs become swollen and inflamed and often create extra mucus, making it hard to breath. Around 7 million children in the United States suffer from asthma, which makes it one of the most common chronic illnesses for school-age kids.
If your son or daughter is struggling with asthma, your family doctor will help you come up with a plan to treat and control the disease. Small adjustments at home and school can help them live unencumbered by asthma and the challenges it might present. Asthma can be very serious, but it is also very manageable.
Managing Asthma at Home
The most important thing you can do to help your asthmatic child is remove common asthma triggers from their home environment. One of the biggest is secondhand smoke. If you or your spouse is a smoker, the best thing you can do for your child is quit. A smoke-free home and car is essential for controlling the symptoms of their asthma. Another thing that can be really helpful, especially if you live in a humid climate is getting a dehumidifier for your child’s room.
One of the biggest triggers for asthma is an allergy to mold, and dehumidifiers make it harder for mold to grow, as well as reducing dust mites in the air. You should also work to keep pets out of your child’s bedroom, because dander is another serious trigger.
Managing Asthma at School
Parents should monitor air quality in their area and make sure the school can keep your child indoors on particularly bad days. Exercise and physical activity at recess can bring on an asthma attack, especially if there is pollen or smog in the air. Schools can also help with supervising a child’s asthma medicine during the day. You can push to allow your child to carry their own inhaler, as well as get to know the nurse and health workers at the school to make sure they understand the child’s condition. Even very young children can learn to use an inhaler on their own, but until they do, they need to have emergency access to relief from an asthma attack.
Recognizing Asthma Symptoms
Your child may be diagnosed with asthma early on, but it is still important that you and the officials at their school be able to recognize the difference between common asthma symptoms and the beginning of a serious attack. Asthmatic kids can often be short of breath and start coughing during gym class and after other forms of exercise. They can also have the typical symptoms of seasonal allergies like congestion and sore throat. But if symptoms are more extreme, like chest pain, uncontrollable wheezing, and even blue lips or fingers, then the child needs immediate help. Some children might not be able to use their inhaler if an asthma attack is too serious because they can’t draw enough breath, in which case an ambulance should be called.
It’s important to control childhood asthma because it can lead to health problems later in life. Adults who had childhood asthma are 12 percent more likely to be obese and 50 percent likely to be chronically absent from work and school. Fortunately, the health industry is changing the way it looks at childhood asthma, so that boys and girls all over America can live their life without being held back by the air they breathe.
Eva Martin writes articles for several health blogs. If your child suffers with asthma a dehumidifier can help the air quality in your home. Check out the Danby dehumidifiers at Sylvane.com.