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Asthma in children, what is it?

With winter on the doors, some of our kids might start to experience some asthma symptoms. When this happens the first time, we parents might be a bit disoriented, not knowing what is asthma or even how can we help our little ones. In this article, we will answer all the questions you have about asthma in babies.

1. What is asthma?
Asthma is a respiratory disease where the airways of our lungs become tight or even blocked making breathing difficult. The common signs of asthma are: fast/difficult breathing, wheezing, coughing, tiredness or even a fussy baby. Usually these signs first appear at night when the cortisone hormone levels in our body is lowest.

2. What are the causes of asthma?
The exact cause of asthma is not very clear, yet scientists believe that it might be genetic (especially in families where several members do have asthma). Another cause is viral infection affecting the lungs: this is the most common causes of asthma in almost half of children below the age of 5 years. Food or pollen/dust allergy is also a potential cause of asthma.

3. What should I do when I see that my baby has asthma symptoms?
If it’s the first time that you see these signs, contact your doctor immediately or go to the nearest hospital. You do not want the oxygen level in your child’s body to get low.
If it’s not the first time, then administer the medications that were recommended by your doctor in such situation. If your child doesn’t get any better after taking the medications, then contact your doctor immediately or go to the hospital.

4. How can we treat asthma?
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), bronchodilator medications are first used to quickly open up the airways in the lungs for your child for him/her to be able to breath easily again. At the hospital, the doctor will give these medications to your child as inhaled form using a nebulizer: your child will be wearing a mask on his/her face where he/she will breathe in the medication for 10 minutes. The effect of these medications is faster when given via a nebulizer than orally.

5. Can we prevent asthma?
We cannot prevent asthma 100%, yet there are a couple of things that can help. Your doctor will prescribe to your little one some medications to prevent/control the asthma on long-term. The AAFA recommends corticosteroids to decrease any inflammation in the lungs’ airways.
As parents, make sure that your kids are wearing heavy clothes that keep them warm (asthma can be triggered when being exposed to cold temperatures). Try also not to expose your little ones to dust. Make sure that your kids are eating food boosting their immunity that contains honey, ginger, garlic, onion, kiwi, oranges and green vegetables (remember asthma can be due to viral infection).

6. Is it a chronic disease?
Asthma can stay for a lifetime in some children while it can resolve with time in others. We cannot know or predict if it will stay or go. In other kids it might resolve when they grow up but re-appear again when they are in their 30’s or 40’s.

The most important thing to do if your child has asthma is to manage it properly. Observe very well what triggers asthma in your child and discuss with your doctor about the asthma management plan of your little one. Even if asthma will stay with your kid when he/she grows up, do not worry. Teach him/her how to deal with it. There are many adults that have asthma and that have a very normal and happy life.

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About author
Dr. Reem Khalaf Bachelor of Pharmacy and Biotechnology (German University in Cairo) instagram account : babychef_eg
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