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Understanding Asthma

May 8, 2008
Asthma is a respiratory condition that affects 17 million Americans. Of this group, almost 6 million are children. In other words, approximately two out of every ten children suffer from this condition. If you feel that your child may have asthma, it will help you to decide on an effective treatment program if you first understand what asthma is and what symptoms it produces.

Asthma is defined as a chronic (long term) inflammatory disease of the airways. When the airways (known as bronchi) become irritated or inflamed, they narrow and cause the sufferer to gasp to wheeze and have difficulty catching his breath. During this "attack," the muscle tissues that are found in the walls of the bronchi begin to spasm, causing the cells that line the airway to swell and secrete mucus. The combination of the two processes causes the airway to narrow, making breathing difficult. The victim's airways will either open up on their own or in response to a variety of treatments. The condition causes the airways to become highly responsive and narrowing occurs when the airway is exposed to certain stimuli such as cold air, exercise, dust, pollutants, stress, and anxiety.

There are other symptoms of asthma other than the obvious wheezing. Some children suffer from slight occurrences of shortness of breath. Others may feel pain in their chest or begin coughing. In some cases, the child's back or neck will begin itching right before an asthma attack. Most children will tire easily and become irritated before an attack is about to begin. In the case of an infant, the baby may have feeding problems, grunting while he is eating when his asthma is beginning to bother him.

Due to the variety of symptoms exhibited by different children, only your child's physician can determine if your child is suffering from asthma. Some youngsters are in high risk groups to develop the condition. A child who has a variety of allergies or suffers from numerous respiratory infections may be more prone to develop asthma. Children who had a low birth weight or whose mother smoked or was exposed to smoking during her pregnancy are high risk for the condition. Children who are exposed to cigarette smoke regularly are more prone to develop it. Asthma also seems to be hereditary, so any child who has a family member who suffers from asthma is more likely to also develop it. If your child falls in to one of these high risk categories, you should inform your family doctor. This information will insure that he doctor will check your child regularly for any asthma symptoms.

When determining the treatment program for a child suffering from asthma, your doctor will first determine the category that your child's symptoms fall into. There are several of these groups that are rated according to the frequency and severity of the asthma symptoms. From the mildest to the most severe they are as follows: mild intermittent (twice or less times a week), mild persistent (more than twice a week but not daily), moderate persistent (daily), and severe persistent (continually throughout the day). By determining the severity of your child's condition, his doctor can recommend an effective treatment program.

Asthma is a controllable condition as long as your child follows his treatment program and avoids stimuli that may affect him adversely. In almost all cases, an asthma attack will pass and is not fatal. In the case of a severe attack, however, medical help should be called. One consolation is that most children outgrow asthma as they reach adulthood.

As a parent of an asthmatic child, you will need to teach your child the things that he should avoid as well as the warning signs that an attack may be coming on. If your child is age appropriate, you should make sure that he knows how to take his medication on his own. The combination of education and medication should enable your child to enjoy a normal, happy childhood.
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Find helpful and creative ideas for parents and grandparents while you shop our affordable kids furniture. For more information, visit this article on wooden toy boxes .
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