Are you concerned that your child's breathing problems may be symptoms of asthma?
What is asthma?
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood, affecting more than 6 million children in America. It affects 1 in 10 children (10%) and is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that can cause episodes of cough, wheezing and breathing difficulty. Symptoms may be made worse by exposure to allergens or respiratory infections. Symptoms may improve between episodes but it is important to continue your asthma controller medications as directed by Dr. Thompson.
What are the symptoms of asthma?
Common asthma symptoms include:
- Wheezing, while common, may be absent in asthma, beware of a silent chest
- Breathlessness - when active, when laughing or when at rest
- Chest tightness or chest pain
- Increased respiratory rate, increased work of breathing, increased pulse rate
- Any of the above symptoms which occur at night or early morning are very concerning
During an acute asthma episode, signs and symptoms of increased difficulty breathing include:
- Inability to talk in full sentences, using only phrases, words or gestures
- Refusal to lie down - child may prefer to sit or lean forward to make breathing easier
- Retractions - increased work of breathing requiring accessory neck, chest or abdominal muscles
A history of cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, wheezing or endurance problems during exercise suggests exercise induced asthma.
Teachers and coaches should be notified that a child has exercise induced asthma. When asthma is controlled, a child should be able to participate in activities. Consistent use of controller medications reduces airway inflammation. A short acting inhaler, such as albuterol, used before activity helps with symptoms during activity.
Children and families benefit from activity. Exercise induced asthma should not prevent full participation in sports, fun and adventures.
Medications for asthma are categorized into long-term control medications and quick-relief, or rescue medications, to treat acute asthma symptoms and exacerbations.
Long-Term Control Medications are taken daily to reduce airway inflammation and achieve control of persistent asthma:
- Inhaled corticosteroids used consistently are the most effective long-term control medication
- Use a spacer with your metered dose inhaler (puffer) to deliver medicine more effectively to your lungs
- Long-acting bronchodilators (LABAs) are used in combination with inhaled corticosteroids
- Leukotriene modifiers may be used as an alternative to mild asthma or more often to augment inhaled corticosteroids
- Immunomodulators, or biologics such as Omalizumab, modify the allergic immune response.
Quick-Relief or Rescue Medications are taken as needed to give prompt relief of symptoms. Frequent use of short-acting beta-agonists (SABAs) may be a sign asthma is not well controlled and long-term control must be addressed:
Asthma Action Plans
A written asthma management plan for school is an important tool to manage the care of children with asthma. An asthma action plan includes:
- Long-term control medications when prescribed
- The steps to take for treating acute asthma episodes
- Emergency numbers to call
- For the appropriate patient, best peak flow or peak flow zones
Seek Emergency Care (911) immediately if any of the following are present:
- The child has trouble walking or talking due to shortness of breath
- The child is struggling to breathe
- The child's fingernail or lips are turning blue
- The child's peak flow measurement is in the red zone
- There is no improvement in the child's symptoms within 20-30 minutes of taking a rescue medication
Does a family member have asthma?
Call Chisholm Trail Allergy and Asthma at (817) 346-7676 to learn more about asthma care!