Children are often the most susceptible to life-threatening asthma attacks during the initial development of the disease. The signs of asthma in children under 5 often become apparent when coughing and wheezing become persistent and do not go away with cough medications or other antibiotics. These symptoms in children are caused by the narrowing of airways that become inflamed when irritants and allergens enter breathing passages. Diagnosing asthma in children under 5 can pose challenges, as they are not able to perform common lung function exams like the spirometry, which measures how much air is breathed in and out. Doctors often diagnose asthma in children by doing an evaluation of the medical history, symptoms, and a trial of asthma medications.
Managing and minimizing the symptoms of asthma in children is often the biggest challenge for parents as attack triggers can sometimes manifest unexpectedly. There are ways to minimize the frequency and severity of asthma by taking into account the following tips.
If your child is diagnosed with asthma, doctors may prescribe long-term medications and rescue inhalers to help reduce the severity of symptoms. Depending on your child’s asthma symptoms, long-term treatments like Flovent that contain corticosteroids are prescribed to help treat the condition over time. When taken as prescribed, these types of medications reduce the occurrence and severity of asthma attacks. For sudden asthma attacks that constrict airways and make it difficult to breathe, doctors prescribe bronchodilators or rescue inhalers that contain ingredients like albuterol. Bronchodilators like Proventil HFA enter the airways to immediately dilate inflamed and mucus-congested airways after exercising or being exposed to allergens.
Proventil HFA Inhaler
Dust and other allergen can increase the frequency and severity of asthma attacks. Reducing the allergens from surfaces, especially in the bedroom, can help minimize the risk for increased attacks in children. One way to significantly reduce allergens in the bedroom is by washing bedding, pillows, and other plush toys once or twice per week. By routinely washing textiles with fibers that accumulate allergens and dust over time, you can drastically lower the frequency of the attacks at home.
If your child is diagnosed with asthma, removing carpet and replacing it with wood or tile flooring may help reduce the buildup of dust and other substances that cause flare-ups. Even when vacuuming twice a week, having carpet in child’s room can collect allergens behind beds and under furniture that is difficult to remove. While this may not be an ideal choice for every parent, removing carpeting or rugs in a child’s room may reduce the frequency and severity of attacks in children with moderate to severe asthma. If removing carpet is not an option, equip vacuums and air conditioner units with HEPA filters to reduce allergens in the room.
Toxic cleaners often contain chemicals that can irritate the skin and airways in children with asthma. This reaction is caused by the substances that agitate tissues around the airways, causing inflammation and frequent asthma flare-ups. Making the switch to gentler cleaners with natural emulsifiers and plant-based ingredients could help your child minimize the severity of attacks.
For more information about asthma and asthma medications, visit our Asthma Condition Page.