When your child has an asthma attack, it can be a very scary time. Some parents feel that they do not know enough about how to treat asthma or help their child during an attack. This page gives some very basic information about asthma, what it is, how it is treated, and how you, as the parent of an asthmatic child, can better deal with the attacks as they happen. This pages also includes a glossary of defined terms so that you and your child can understand the meanings of some of the words used to describe asthma.
By reading this booklet, you will learn how to prevent asthma attacks by using medications and a peak flow meter. You will be given a list of early warning signs, and how to stop an attack if your child is having one. This booklet also gives you information on recognizing a severe attack and how to single out the most common triggers of an asthma attack. You will even learn what information to give to your doctor so your doctor can best help your child.
At the end of this booklet, some support groups are listed that can help you even more with managing your child’s asthma. Your child may seem panicked during an asthma attack. More often than not, it is the parents who panic while the child is only struggling to keep breathing and might be a little embarrassed about all the attention. In the long run, your patience and ability to remain calm during your child’s attacks will help your child most of all.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is a disease of the lungs. It is not something you can catch from someone, but it is a hereditary condition, meaning that it does pass down through families. Asthma is a treatable condition, but is not curable. Your child will have his asthma all of his life, and at times it may get better or worse, but if he does what is necessary to control it, he won’t be bothered by symptoms very often.
When someone has an asthma attack, you often see a red-faced, panting person looking as if she cannot catch her breath. What is happening inside her lungs is not letting her catch her breath. During an attack of asthma, the airways react to something they were exposed to and constrict, not letting enough air into the lungs.
An irritant (dust, pollen, something she is allergic to) caused the bronchial tubes, or breathing tubes that lead to the lungs, to become tight and they often become inflamed, or swollen. The breathing passage gets narrow, which does not allow much air into his lungs. At the same time, mucous starts to fill up the bronchial tubes. Breathing becomes difficult, and the person may wheeze or gasp to try to get enough air. Only after the asthma attack passes can the person breathe comfortably again.
Some common asthma attack symptoms are:
- Difficulty breathing ??? gasping for air, panting
- Wheezing ??? a high-pitched sound like letting the air out of a balloon
- Coughing ??? some mucus may be brought up during a coughing spell
Why Does an Asthma Attack Happen?
There are many things that cause, or trigger, an asthma attack. Here is a list of the most common triggers of asthma attacks. You might want to mark any triggers that are present in your home or that your child is exposed to often.
- dust mites
- pet hair
- cigarette/cigar smoke
- auto exhaust
- household sprays
- air pollution
- rapid temperature changes
- aspirin (in some children)
- vigorous exercise
- certain foods, such as eggs, chocolate, nuts, dairy products and seafood
- sinus drainage
- paint fumes
- other chemical fumes or smells
- Preventing an asthma attack
- What is a peak flow meter?
- Predicting an asthma attack
- Treating an asthma attack
- Getting the most out of your doctor appointment
- Glossary of terms