childhood asthma  

Childhood asthma

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What IS hidden ASTHMA?

Many times diagnosis of asthma is missed due to absence of classical signs of asthma i.e. wheezing, rapid breathing and coughing become obvious. The condition of many children with asthma will go undetected if careful examination is not done. These children with asthma usually suffer some degree of airway obstruction: and unless it is brought under control, the children may suffer respiratory illness more frequently.

Hidden asthma however can produce so few recognizable symptoms that even the physician might not be able to distinguish abnormal breath sounds with his or her stethoscope. Pulmonary function testing usually reveals these cases of airway obstruction.  
Children with family history of atopy and allergy and who are also having recurrent cough and respiratory infections must be suspected for having asthma. Parent's input can be vital for diagnosing asthma.

What usually triggers ASTHMA?

Episodes of asthma often are triggered by some condition or stimulus.

Some common triggering factors are:

  • Air pollution. 

  • House dust mites

  • Molds indoor and outdoor. 

  • Cockroaches. 

  • Environmental factors (cold air, fog, ozone, sulfur dioxide, cigarette smoke, diesel fumes). 

  • Changing weather and temperature. 

  • Pollens from flowers of grass and trees. 

  • Exercise 

  • Irritant dust and fumes and strong odors from fresh paints and cooking. 

  • Food addictives and preservatives (monosodium glutamate, tartarzine, metabisulfite). 

  • Warm blooded pets (like dogs, cats, birds, and small rodents). 

  • Pharmacological agents (aspirin, other NSAIDs, beta blockers). 

  • Viral infections. 

  • Strong emotions such crying and laughing.

CLICK: How to control asthma triggers

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Exercise induced asthma is a subset of asthma which is initiated by exercise. Running can trigger an episode in over 80 percent of children with asthma.  Swimming is the most asthma friendly exercise. Exercise induced asthma can be prevented by the use of short acting beta-2 agonist like Salbutamol (albuterol) inhaler 15 minutes before exercise. If child is engaged in almost daily exercise schedule, long acting beta-2 agonists are preferred. 


Air pollution, cigarette smoke, strong odors, aerosol sprays and paint fumes, strong odors are same the substances which irritate the tissues of the lungs and upper airways.
Cigarette smoke is highly irritating and can trigger asthma.  Cigarette smoking certainly should be avoided in the home of any child with asthma. Parents must be persuaded to quit smoking. It has been shown that when the parents of a child with asthma stop smoking, the child's asthma often improves.
Irritants must be recognized and avoided. 

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There are number of climatic conditions that trigger asthma in children. Cold air is a common trigger for asthma. Pulmonary function studies demonstrate that breathing cold air provoke asthma in most of asthmatic children.  
Precautions may be necessary to avoid inhalation of cold air. A heavy scarf, warn loosely over the nose and mouth will also help avoid cold air induced asthma. Wearing a special ski mask designed for this purpose also helps.
The weather affects outdoor inhalant allergens (pollens and molds). On a windy day more allergens will be scattered in the air, while a heavy rainfall will wash the air clean of allergens. On the other hand, a light rain might wash (just pollen but actually increase mold concentration.
Moving to a new area may not always help in reducing asthma severity. There may be short term improvement but in long term this benefit vanishes. There does not seem to be one best climate for all children with asthma.

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Emotional factors are not the cause of asthma as many believe but emotional stress can infrequently trigger asthma.
A child's asthma might only, be noticeable after laughing, crying or yelling in response to an emotional situation. These “emotional' responses involve rapid and deep  breathing that cools and dry the airway which in turn can trigger asthma.  
Emotional stress itself (anger, anxiety, frustration) also can trigger asthma but only in allergic or a topic children who are already suffering from asthma.  
Emotions can aggravate asthma. Many children with asthma suffer from severe anxiety during an episode as a result of suffocation produced by asthma. The anxiety and panic can then produce rapid breathing or hyperventilation, which further triggers the asthma.

For this reason, anxiety and panic should be controlled as much as possible during the episode. The parent should remain calm, encourage the child to relax and breathe easy and give appropriate medication.
Treatment should be aimed at controlling the asthma. When asthma is controlled other emotional factors can then be dealt with more effectively.
As with any other chronic illness asthma is also associated with secondary psychological problems. Severe psychological problems require a specialist to help the child and his or her family.

Is my child suffering from asthma?

Recurrent chest problems in your child may be due to childhood asthma. Go to the questioner and answer the questions in yes and no. If the answer is yes it may be asthma. Consult your family physician for further analysis.

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 What IS hidden ASTHMA?
 What usually triggers ASTHMA?

On next page differential diagnosis of asthma and more...

Last edited 24-4-2010