It is estimated that asthma represents the most common chronic childhood illness in the United States. Approximately 5 million children under the age of 18 are suffering from asthma. They face asthma attacks of different frequency. The condition can be quite debilitating and interferes in a child's school that is in the activities the child is having. Even though parents of these children know how to recognize asthma attacks and how to behave (what to do) most of them fear that they will not be able to help their child. This fear may be somehow reduced if parents get thoroughly informed regarding the very condition, the onset of the attack, typical symptoms and signs as well as steps they should follow when helping their child.
Asthma Attacks in Children Causes
Asthma attacks in children (similarly to the attacks in adults) develop once the child is exposed to a specific allergen such as smoke, pollen, dust etc. Changes in weather conditions, respiratory infections as well as emotional disturbances are additional triggers of the attack.
Asthma Attacks in Children Clinical Characteristics
An asthma attack is actually worsening of asthma symptoms. The specific symptoms and signs develop as a consequence of the tightening of muscles of the airways (bronchospasm). The lining of the airways becomes inflamed and swollen. Breathing is additionally jeopardized with the presence of thick mucus. So, the attack is actually a result of three factors, inflammation, bronchospasm and excessive mucus production.
All of the mentioned is blamed for difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath etc. Patients may suffer from coughing that cannot stop, very rapid breathing and chest pain/ pressure. The neck is tight, the child cannot talk and he/she shows signs of anxiety and panic. Patient's face is pale and sweaty, lips and fingernails may be cyanotic.
Asthma Attacks in Children Treatment
After recognizing an asthma attack patients should immediately try to inhale asthma medications by using asthma inhalers. Furthermore, some drugs can be better administered with the assistance of nebulizers. The goal of the treatment is to open the airway sufficiently to allow the child to breathe normally. Some attacks are very serious and children need to be hospitalized. Apart from treatment with specific medications (theophylline, aminophylline, beta 2 agonists, anticholinergics etc) patients also receive oxygen therapy.
Asthma Attacks in Children Prevention
In order to prevent recurrent asthma attacks parents are due to be familiar with all the potential triggers of the attack. Most, if not all, triggers are supposed to be eliminated or the exposure reduced to minimum.
Furthermore, if the child cannot be isolated, he/ she should receive medications as soon as parents notice the onset of the attack.
If the child is suffering from some respiratory infections, asthma attacks may be prevented with an adequate treatment.
Finally, make sure the child is aware of all potential factors that may induce the attack and learn to prevent himself/herself.