CPR First Aid

Living With Childhood Asthma: A Parent's Guide

Living With Childhood Asthma: A Parent’s Guide

If you are a parent of a child with asthma, you know that it can be a challenge to keep them healthy and comfortable. Asthma is a common respiratory condition that can cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. While there is no cure for asthma, there are many things you can do to help control it. This guide provides information on living with childhood asthma, including tips on managing symptoms and medications. It is important to work with your child’s doctor to create a treatment plan that works best for them.

How Does Asthma Physically Affect a Child?

When a child has an asthma attack, the airways constrict and become narrower than normal. This makes it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs. The lining of the airways also becomes inflamed and starts to produce excess mucus. All of these changes make it hard to breathe.

During an asthma attack, a child may experience wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Their chest may feel tight and they may have difficulty talking or playing. Asthma attacks can range from mild to severe, and in some cases can be life-threatening.

What is Dyspnea?

Dyspnea is the medical word for shortness of breath. To some people, descriptions of dyspnea include air hunger, rapid breathing, running out of air, or being unable to breathe quickly or deeply enough.

What is Bronchospasm?

Bronchospasm is one of the reasons why children with asthma have difficulty breathing during attacks. It is the constriction of the smooth muscles of the bronchi, or big airways, that decreases the diameter of the lumen of the bronchus. This is the one that produces a high-pitched sound called wheezing.

How Widespread is Pediatric Asthma in Australia?

According to the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand, around 1 in 9 people has asthma. In Australia including Southport QLD, asthma is the most common chronic disease in children, which affects around 1 in 4 pediatric patients. It is also a leading cause of hospitalisation in children. Meanwhile, in adults, asthma affects around 1 in 10 people.

Is There a Cure for Asthma?

Although there is no known cure for asthma, it can be controlled with medication and lifestyle changes. With proper treatment, most children with asthma can lead normal, active lives. However, some children may experience more severe symptoms that require hospitalisation. In severe cases, asthma can be fatal if not treated properly.

The education sector and childcare facilities must have trained staff in first aid and should have completed a Southport asthma and anaphylaxis course. If you are interested to learn more about first aid qualifications, contact CPR First Aid near you.

Common Triggers of Asthma

  • Allergens such as dust mites, pollen, and animal dander
  • Irritants such as smoke, pollution, and strong smells
  • Infections such as the common cold and flu
  • Exercise
  • Cold air
  • Emotional stress

Severe Asthma Attacks

Severe asthmatic attacks in children are marked by a sudden onset of symptoms, including shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness. The child may also have difficulty speaking or coughing. The attack may be accompanied by anxiety and a sense of suffocation. 

In severe cases, the child may experience cyanosis, or a bluish tinge to the skin, due to a lack of oxygen. The child’s pulse may be rapid and their breathing may be shallow. They may also have a decreased level of consciousness and be unable to communicate.

If not treated immediately, severe asthmatic attacks can lead to respiratory failure and death. Treatment for a severe asthmatic attack typically includes the administration of:

  • oxygen
  • beta-agonists
  • corticosteroids
  • sometimes anticholinergics

The child may also be hospitalised for additional treatment and observation. Severe asthmatic attacks are potentially life-threatening conditions and should be treated immediately by trained medical personnel.

Childhood Asthma Risk Factors

There are several risk factors for asthma in children. Numerous factors, such as the following, increase a child’s risk of developing asthma:

Genetics

If a parent or sibling has asthma, the child is more likely to develop the condition.

Allergies

People with hypersensitivity reactions like hay fever are at increased risk of asthma.

Environment

Exposure to certain environmental triggers such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, or viral infections, can increase a child’s risk of developing asthma

If you are concerned that your child may be at risk for asthma, talk to your doctor right away. They can help you determine if your child is likely to develop the condition and recommend steps you can take to reduce their risk.

What to Do When You Have a Child with Asthma?

It is important to work with a healthcare team to create a treatment plan for a child with asthma. They’ll be able to run the necessary tests to establish the diagnosis and create a treatment strategy.

Develop an Asthma Action Plan

In Australia, an asthma action plan  is created by the health care team headed by the doctor and is usually participated by the parents. This is a concise list of guidelines when the symptoms of your child’s asthma alter or vary. Every asthma patient should have a customised asthma action plan.

The asthma action plan for an asthmatic child will outline the following:

  • how to spot signs that your child’s asthma is growing worse 
  • how to recognise an attack is coming and what can be done to control it.
  • how to identify severe symptoms that call for immediate medical attention (with emergency information on what to do if your child has an asthma attack)
  • the trigger factors of the child’s asthma

In the event that your child is having an asthma attack, it’s critical to maintain your composure and adhere to the asthma action plan you and your doctor have created. The plan will serve as a guide as to what you should do and when to do it. In most cases, the attack can be treated at home with over-the-counter or prescription medications. However, if the attack is severe, you will need to take your child to the emergency room.

Asthma Medication for Children

Many of these treatments focus on helping the child to manage their symptoms and preventing attacks from occurring. Some of the most common treatments for children with asthma include:

Inhaled Corticosteroids

These medications are typically used on a daily basis to help reduce inflammation in the airways and prevent attacks from happening.

Bronchodilators

Used as needed to help open up the airways and ease symptoms during an attack.

Oral Corticosteroids 

May be used for a short period of time during a severe asthma attack or flare-up.

Allergy shots (immunotherapy)

For children with asthma that is triggered by allergies, allergy shots may be recommended in order to help reduce the severity of symptoms.

The type of treatment that is best for a child with asthma will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of their condition and any triggers that may be present.

How to Help Children Avoid Triggers?

  • Keep the house clean and free of dust and mould.
  • Use an air purifier or HEPA filter.
  • Bathe pets regularly and keep them out of the bedroom if possible.
  • Vacuum regularly with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter.
  • Encourage your child to wash their hands often, especially before eating.
  • Teach them to avoid touching their face.
  • Make sure they get vaccinated against the flu every year.
  • Encourage them to do gentle exercises such as yoga or Tai Chi.
  • Dress them in warm clothing in cold weather.
  • Help them to manage stress with relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or visualisation.

Some Great Exercises for Childhood Asthma

  • Swimming – is one of the most popular workouts for those with asthma
  • Walking – a fantastic low-intensity exercise option
  • Hiking
  • Bike riding for fun
  • Track and field for short distances

Conclusion

For parents of children with asthma, learning to live with the condition is a lifelong process. While there is no one right way to manage asthma, there are some basic steps that can help make life easier for both you and your child. By taking these steps, you can help prevent asthma attacks in children and keep them healthy and happy.

A Cnr Ferry Rd and, Cotlew St E, Southport 4215 first aid certification in asthma and anaphylaxis are required and beneficial in the workplace, at home and in the community setting. For more information, contact CPR First Aid RTO 21903.

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