Asthma affects not just adults, but also children. In fact, according to World Health Organization, it is the most common chronic disease among kids. Going by WHO statistics, it affected an estimated 262 million people four years ago and caused 4, 55,000 deaths. There can be several asthma triggers in children, but did you know exercise could be one among them?
Health Shots reached out to Dr Shahid Shafi Bhat, Consultant Internal Medicine, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals, Moradabad, to know all about asthma in children.
What is asthma?
It is a chronic respiratory disease that affects the airways in the lungs, and is characterised by inflammation and narrowing of the airways. This makes it difficult for air to flow in and out of the lungs, explains Dr Bhat. It causes coughing, wheezing as well as shortness of breath — episodes that can be triggered by many factors. In some cases, children may experience symptoms of asthma only when they are exposed to specific triggers like pets or pollen. This is known as intermittent asthma. In other cases, children may have ongoing symptoms that require daily medication to manage their asthma. This is known as persistent asthma.
Childhood asthma can start at any age, but it most commonly develops before the child turns 5. Many are even diagnosed with asthma before they celebrate their third birthday.
Common triggers for asthma in children
Managing asthma is very important, as poor asthma control is associated with a number of negative effects on children and families. For example, they are more likely to take leaves from school or have additional educational needs. You can help your child by spotting the triggers first. Here are some of the common triggers:
Allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, pollen, and mold can trigger asthma symptoms in some children, says the expert. When a child with asthma is exposed to an allergen, it can cause inflammation in the airways, leading to wheezing, coughing, and difficulty in breathing.
2. Respiratory infections
Cold, flu and bronchitis can also trigger asthma symptoms in some children. A respiratory infection can cause inflammation in the airways.
Exercising is generally good for health, but there is something known as exercise-induced asthma. It is a type of asthma that is triggered by physical activity. So, when a child with exercise-induced asthma works out, it can worsen the kid’s asthma. But don’t make them give up exercises altogether. You along with teachers and doctors can work together to help your child with asthma manage the situation so that they can be involved in physical activities in whatever way it is possible.
Smoke, pollution, and strong odours all come under irritants that can trigger asthma symptoms in some children. It’s not possible to always to keep them away from these irritants, but wearing a mask can be helpful while stepping out.
5. Season change
Some catch a cold when the weather changes. Turns out, changes in weather, such as cold air or humidity, can trigger asthma symptoms in some children. So, try not to expose them to cold air or high humidity.
Every child is different, so asthma triggers may be different too. It’s important to work with a doctor and your child to identify and manage their asthma triggers. They can help a great deal in preventing asthma attacks and improving their quality of life. This may involve developing an individualised treatment plan that includes medication, avoiding triggers when possible, and monitoring symptoms closely, says the expert.
With time, the child’s asthma may improve, but it is still important to continue to manage the condition to prevent asthma attacks and ensure that the child’s lungs are healthy.