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Food & Health

World Asthma Day: Ways To Manage Your Child's Asthma

That cough your child has, may not be just a cough and could instead be something more serious, namely, asthma. With 3 May being World Asthma Day, here’s what you need to know about asthma and what you can do if your child is asthmatic.

With one in five school going children suffering from it, asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases found in kids. Although many just accept its existence as merely a minor inconvenience and live with it without knowing the full crux of the condition, there is a lot more to asthma than just the coughing fits that it is associated with.

Triggers And Attacks
Asthma, in its basic form, is a condition where the lung airways become inflamed, and as such, narrowed and obstructed. This results in breathing difficulties and asthma attacks. Although the exact underlying causes of asthma are not fully understood, there are a number of allergens which are commonly known to trigger asthma attacks in children, namely, animal dander, tobacco smoke, dust, pests, pollen, certain medications, and even stress. According to Dr K Vijaya, director of the Youth Health Division, Health Promotion Board, when an asthma attack occurs, a child will feel “tightness and pain in his chest, which will cause difficulty in breathing. He might also start wheezing or breathe high-pitched whistling sounds when breathing out. Other than that, he will also have a recurring cough, which will be particularly worse at night.”


Image Credit: Ereid Miller

When that occurs, your child should be given prescribed pills or an inhaler to help reduce inflammation, open up his airways, and ease his breathing. If your child is having an asthma attack for the first time, or if the attack is prolonged for more than a few hours, keep calm and bring him to the doctor immediately to get the situation assessed.

If your child is having an asthma attack for the first time, or if the attack is prolonged for more than a few hours, keep calm and bring him to the doctor immediately to get the situation assessed.

Fighting The Symptoms
Asthma can impact the life of your child during his daily activities such as sports, school and playtime. Even sleep will be hindered. If not treated properly, asthma attacks can be so severe to the extent that they can even end up fatal, so it is best to diagnose the condition as early as possible to prevent any furthering of the problem. Says Dr Wendy Sinnathamby, specialist in Paediatrics & consultant, Raffles Children’s Centre, “Asthma can be reduced or prevented from becoming worse by early use of bronchodilator medicines (medicines that open up the airways). For those with on-going or frequent symptoms of asthma, anti-inflammatory treatment is used to reduce the sensitivity of the airways, thus reducing the symptoms and preventing worsening of the asthmatic condition.” 

Prevention Of Asthma
Apart from medical treatment, symptoms of asthma can also be reduced or avoided on your own part with the proper management at home. Dr Vijaya shares that it is best not to have a furry pet at home, as the fur can cause irritation. If giving an existing pet away is not an option due to emotional issues, the next best thing to do would be to restrict the areas in which the pet can move around at home and to make sure that it gets a bath at least once a week. It is also important to ensure that dust is minimised, especially in your child’s bed where dust mites can breed. Purchase protective air-tight mattress covers and pillow cases, and wash bed sheets and pillow cases in hot water once a week to effectively get rid of germs. Apart from that, the house should be vacuumed every few days and mopped often to prevent dust from settling.

According to Dr Sinnathamby, asthma can also be further exacerbated by viruses such as the common cold, and also by a change in weather or cold weather. Make sure that your child has a healthy balanced diet with sufficient nutrients from meat, fruit, and vegetables, and stock up on vitamins and health supplements. These will help boost his immune system so that he will be less susceptible to falling ill and experiencing asthma attacks due to the aforementioned factors.

Unfortunately, asthma itself cannot be completely eliminated, but the good news is, with proper care, it can more or less be comfortably handled so that its symptoms are reduced and will not pose as such a great interference to your child’s daily life. If anything, asthma should not be a deterrent for your child to partake in the activities that will be essential for his growth and for him to enjoy a fulfilling childhood. 

What are your tips for dealing with asthma in children? Leave us your views down below.