Asthma is a common lung condition, affecting 1 in 11 children in the UK. It causes airways to narrow, making air difficult to get in and out of the lungs and is often a reaction to an environmental trigger, infection or allergy. The art of breathing is something that most of us take for granted as it is such a natural uncomplicated process so, witnessing your child having an asthma attack can be very frightening.
What are the symptoms of asthma?
- Coughing (especially at night)
- A tight chest
If you notice these symptoms in your child then speak to your doctor. Diagnosis of asthma is often not immediate and will require a range of tests and questions. Your doctor will ask you questions on the frequency of these symptoms, family history and whether you notice anything that triggers these episodes. You will most likely be prescribed a blue reliever inhaler with a spacer, in case of another episode, which will relax the muscles in the airways making it easier to breathe. You may also be asked to record and measure your child’s peak flow at regular times by using a peak flow monitor. It is simple to use and requires the child to breathe into the device as hard and fast as they can to measure lung capacity. After a few weeks this record can then give your doctor a clearer picture of your child’s asthma.
What is an asthma attack?
Sometimes these symptoms can get worse and this can happen suddenly or over the course of a few days. Signs to watch out for include:
- Coughing that becomes more frequent and does not stop
- Difficulty talking
- Rapid breathing
- Tightening chest
- Severe wheezing
- Blue lips or fingernails
- Symptoms not being relieved despite the use of a reliever inhaler
If this happens then encourage your child to sit up and keep calm and call for an ambulance.
What is the treatment for asthma?
There is no cure for asthma but medicine can control symptoms and aid asthmatics to lead a normal life. A brown inhaler may be prescribed as a preventor, to build up strength in the airways and make asthma attacks less frequent. As well as inhalers, you may be issued an asthma plan and given annual check ups to review medication and symptoms.
Plenty of famous athletes have asthma such as Paula Radcliff and David Beckham which goes to show that with the right treatment, your child can anything!
By Karen Olney