Asthma and Children

Asthma in children or adults is triggered by the lungs being irritated by a cold, an upper respiratory infection, or an allergic reaction in the lungs.

The symptoms are much like a severe cold usually accompanied by a relentless wheezing cough. It is also very persistent like it won’t go away. Having had it myself as a child and occasionally as an adult trying to cough up or clear the wheezing is almost like drowning because the mucus doesn’t seem to release causing a gagging effect. The same feeling you get when the doctor sticks that big Popsicle stick too far down your throat. The worst of the symptoms is that feeling of not getting a sufficient amount of oxygen because of the swollen bronchial tubes.

It’s not hard to imagine how serious this condition can be when a child can’t explain how they’re feeling! There are some children that only have asthma symptoms when they have a cold or upper respiratory infection. Unlike myself, my sons many times were effected by allergies which can seem like everything under the sun until you have the doctor isolate what they are allergic to. These things can be plants, newsprint, flowers, household cleaners, and the list goes on. The most common triggers are mold, dustmites, dander from furry pets and the worst being tobacco.

Though it is rather expensive, allergy scratch tests to see what your child is allergic to can help. Once these triggers are isolated, serum injections that build an immunity to the triggers, hence no reaction. We chose not to take this path with our children, but we did try to eliminate the dustmites where they slept and played by using nonallergenic sheets. We also cleaned the blinds regularly and removed the dust from beneath their beds. As for mold and mildew, we had a battle living in Florida under giant oak trees. A product called “Damp Rid”, little buckets placed in the closets do help absorb the excess moisture. As for our dog, we just tried to keep him out of the boy’s room and when they had a flare up the poor thing was exiled to the dog house. We were tobacco smokers and we decided not to quit, but to smoke outside instead. We didn’t realize that the smoke that effects asthma comes back in with you on your clothes also.

My wife and I learned most of the preventative measures from our family physician that also prescribed using a nebulizer along with a drug called albuterol to help open the bronchial tubes and increase their breathing capacity. We carried a “puffer” (the boys called it) of albuterol for emergencies. When we would have one of those nights where they were really struggling to breathe, so much that they couldn’t lay down to sleep, we would sit beside them on the couch all night so they could try to sleep propped up against us.

The doctor would usually prescribe “prednisone” for 3 days and the asthma would subside. There are somethings that you learn with experience like when they ride their bike in the winter they are almost certainly going to be wheezing that night, but children have to have some fun don’t they? This sounds difficult as a parent, but on the brighter side both of my boys out grew their asthma in their teens as do many others. When I needed some sleep I just remembered the time my 3 year old reached up, put his hand on my face, and said,” I love you, Dad.”