One of the most common long-term diseases that affect children is Asthma. Mostly the child- onset asthma variety starts showing its signs in children by the time they are of the age of 5.

More and more children are becoming susceptible to child-onset asthma. Some suggest that it is because children are exposed almost all the time to allergens such as air pollution, dust and also second-hand tobacco smoke. These factors trigger asthma.

Also they are not exposed to enough number of other ailments that could prepare the body’s immune system for various viruses and bacteria. Their body thus fails to build protective antibodies that in turn could have helped fight asthma during childhood.

A reduced rate in breastfeeding is also considered a reason making children more disposed to asthma. Breastfeeding would provide a baby with necessary nutrients that is important for building a strong immune system and since they are not provided with it, they are more prone to asthma.

Causes of Asthma in Children • Asthma Risk factors

Children are exposed to certain factors that increase their chances of being detected with this ailment and thus trigger asthma. Those risk factors include:

  1. Genetic - Having a family history of allergies or asthma.
  2. Allergy - Having contracted hay fever (nasal allergy) or eczema (affected by skin rash).
  3. Infection - If there is a tendency to get affected frequently by respiratoryinfections.
  4. Weight - Lower body weight during birth.
  5. Smoke - Exposure to smoke of tobacco before and after birth is also able to trigger asthma.

Signs/ symptoms of asthma in children

Look for the below mentioned symptoms in a child to find out if he/she suffers from child-onset asthma.

  1. Coughing - Frequent coughing that occurs in a child during play, laughing or at night. It is also important to know if coughing is the only sign.
  2. Energy levels - Lower energy levels and fatigue during play may be a sign.
  3. Breathing - Rapid breathing, breathlessness, or shortness of breath all constitute as asthma symptoms.
  4. Wheezing - It is a distinct sound made while inhaling or exhaling.
  5. Chest tightness - The chest is tightened causing a feeling of pressure which sometimes causes pain.
  6. Retractions - Sometimes see-saw waves or movements are noticed in the chest that results from labored breathing.
  7. Tightness - The chest muscles along with the neck may get tightened.
  8. Exhaustion - Unusual fatigue and tiredness.
  9. Appetite - Loss of appetite.
  10. Dark circles - Dark circles are developed under the eyes.
  11. Headaches - Headaches are formed very frequently.

Not all children have identical asthma symptoms. Also these symptoms may vary from one asthma episode to another in the same child. It should also be noted that all coughing and wheezing sound is not a sign of asthma. Also most children under the age of 5 years suffer from asthma like symptoms that is only caused by upper respiratory viral infection such as cold.

Asthma treatment for children

If a child has difficulty in breathing and shows the above mentioned signs for a prolonged time, he or she should be taken to the doctor immediately.

A doctor will organize a care plan or asthma action plan for the child depending upon his/her history and also the seriousness of the ailment. The plan normally exhaustively enlists when and how a child needs to use asthma medications, what to do when the asthma symptoms worsen, and when to call for emergency medical help.

Also exposure to asthma causes such as dust, pet dander, and pollen that trigger asthma in a child should be limited or totally avoided. There are many medications that are given to adults and older children and most of them can safely be given to younger children or toddlers as well. Only the dose of the medicine is adjusted according to their weight and age.

In the case of drugs that are inhaled children are provided the medicine through a device that suits their age and ability.

Signs that testify that asthma is regulated

  1. Few symptoms - The frequency and the number of symptoms will decrease.
  2. Less exhaustion - The child will be more active and will be able to perform daily activities with ease.
  3. Less worsened conditions - The need for urgent visits to the doctor, to the emergency room and to the hospital for worsened symptoms of asthma will decrease.

How to prevent asthma in babies during pregnancy?

There are certain factors that all to-be mothers need to avoid in order to prevent their babies from developing asthma.

  1. Low intake of Vitamin E - lower levels of vitamin E in the early stages of pregnancy can prove fatal. Vitamin E provides babies with a kind of built-in protection against asthma and therefore should be adequately consumed.
  2. Smoking - Smoking is hazardous to the health of a baby during pregnancy. To-be mothers should definitely not smoke at all, as smoking damages a baby's lungs by making it come in contact with nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide. Second-hand smoke too is fatal. This causes babies to be born with a lower birth- weight. Third-hand smoke too is dangerous. This smoke remains in clothes, hair and in the room, after smoking. This is rich in arsenic and lead.

    Contact with hazardous smoke causes damage to the lungs of the babies who later develop respiratory disease- asthma.

  3. Food items - Certain food items cause food allergies. Products like soy, nuts and wheat eaten during pregnancy causes food allergies in some, making the child prone to developing asthma later on in childhood. Folic acid, on the other hand is supposed to be taken during early stages of pregnancy. If folic acid is taken at a later stage of pregnancy it does more harm to the child than good as it causes asthma.