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2nd October 2017

Health visitor blog Asthma and children

Asthma and Children
Today is officially the Autumn equinox which basically means that from now through to December, we will see the days shorten and the nights get longer… bye bye summer!! What we will also see is a steady increase in the amounts of colds and viruses that our children will get! This is not because cold weather causes these ailments but because when children are at nursery and school they will be in much closer contact with each other and colds and flu spread easily.
Asthma is not something that is caused by cold weather but because of the upsurge in colds and viruses during winter especially, those with asthma may become quite unwell having caught a cold or virus.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a common lung condition that causes occasional breathing difficulties. The main symptoms of asthma are:
*A tight chest which may feel like there is a band tightening around it.
*Coughing (NHS 2017).
In babies and young children, the symptoms can range from a nagging cough that lingers for days or weeks to sudden breathing difficultly which becomes an emergency.
Common symptoms in babies and young children include:
*Coughing, especially at night
*A wheezing or whistling sound (especially when breathing out)
*Trouble breathing or fast breathing that causes the skin around the ribs or neck to pull in tightly
*Frequent colds that settle in the chest.
Causes of Asthma.
Asthma is caused by inflammation or swelling of the breathing tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. This inflammation causes the tubes to become narrow or become sticky and clogged with mucus. There are many triggers of a
Most children with Asthma will have had symptoms before they turn 5 however Asthma in children is very difficult to diagnose in children and the reason for that is that children and infant’s airways are already small and narrow and head colds, chest colds and other illnesses can inflame these airways making them smaller and more irritated.
Common asthma triggers include;
*allergens such as house dust, animal fur or pollens
*irritants such as cigarette smoke, strong smells, gases or cold air
*chest infections
Diagnosing asthma in children.
As I mentioned above, asthma in children is quite difficult to diagnose however often a GP will make a diagnosis by asking about your child’s symptoms and they may do a few breathing tests. They will also look at family history and whether your child or other family member has a history of allergies such as hay fever, hives or eczema as both allergies and asthma tend to run in families.
Treatment for asthma
The main treatments for asthma are:
ï‚· Try to avoid asthma triggers whenever possible.
ï‚· Using short acting reliever inhalers- these are used when needed to quickly relieve the symptoms as they relax the breathing tubes.
ï‚· Using preventer inhalers that are used regularly each day to reduce inflammation in the breathing tubes and stop asthma symptoms occurring and relax the breathing tubes for a longer period
ï‚· Combined preventer and long acting reliever inhalers- these are inhalers that are used regularly every day which help stop asthma symptoms occurring and relax the breathing tubes for a longer time.
Unfortunately for some, these symptoms get much worse and a person will get an asthma attack which for some may be become life threatening.