Dealing With Your Asthmatic Child

Argh, asthma! One of the plagues of this world today, especially in western societies. There are figures that suggest that up to 40% of children in Australia suffer from this. It does sound a tad exaggerated, but it might be true. Parents of asthmatic children often feel powerless to help. This article discusses the signs of child asthma, the best way to administer medication, and what to do during an asthma attack.

Before we go into any detail, the first thing we need to discuss is the mindset and psychology of parents. Parents need a strong determination to take charge of the child’s asthma. Parents of asthmatic children suffer a range of contradictory feelings – the most charged of course is the natural concern for the child.

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The most obvious question an asthmatic’s parent has is whether they are giving them the best treatment, or is there something they have not thought of or are unaware of? Then there are the doubts about being over or under protective. And since it might not be their first child, how would they treat their non-asthmatic sibling. Perhaps there is some guilt that asthma may have been inherited and it is their fault that the child has the condition.

Let’s take charge of the situation and dispel this myth straight away. It is nobody’s fault or a judgement of some sort even if there is a genetic element to it. Remember the figure that up to 40% of children, at least in Australia, has it. So instead of feeling sorry for oneself, parents should take charge by educating themselves about the condition.

It is a waste of time to worry about the wide range of treatments or medications. Instead, one needs to take practical steps to resolve the issue. Look, there are so many resources these days that there is almost no excuse for not doing research. Use the medical profession, library and internet. The best prescription is knowledge.

The next step is to be aware of the child’s health. One problem with having an ill child is their inability to clearly explain how they feel, especially if they are young. Depending on how you have thought them, an asthmatic child may not come to you in the middle of the night and mention difficulty breathing or persistent coughing. Instead they may leave their condition to worsen until their lungs have expanded enough to start pressing on their stomach. At this point they may mention they feel sick.

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Some children just take a rest when their breathing becomes difficult and never mention they feel out of breath. If you suspect your child may have asthma you probably know the classic signs to look for: coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, changes in colour of skin, nails, or lips, and a tightness of the chest. But also be aware there are other signs that suggest there may be a problem: nausea, lethargy, and low appetite.

Another thing parents often overlook is posture. So, if you suspect your child has asthma, take special notice if he or she has to hunch forward as they exhale if they are feeling short of breath. If possible, take a look at your child’s breathing as they sleep. This will enable you to see how they breathe when they are relaxed. Then you will be able to tell when their breathing becomes laboured.

Next, ensure your child takes any inhaled medication properly. Many asthma medications are delivered by inhalers and it is often difficult for a child to understand and perform the necessary sequence of breaths to take these medicines. Many children feel they cannot hold their breath for the required interval and end up dramatically gasping for air. If your asthmatic child has to take medicines through a metered dose inhaler it is often best to use it with a spacer or aero-chamber.

Another thing is that you need to be prepared for an asthma attack. Know what to do. If your child suffers an asthma attack keep calm and resist the urge to cuddle your child. If you are driving your child to ER or a physician while they are having an asthma attack you must still buckle them into their child seat. To deal with asthma effectively you have to understand the disease and understand your child as well.

As a well-meaning parent, you may be tempted to let your doctor make all the decisions when it comes to your child’s asthma. However, this is not the best approach. There is so much more you can do than just administer medication. You can improve the condition by making changes to the home environment, to your child’s diet, to how they breathe, and to the exercise they do. The more you know about asthma the more effectively you can control it.

Not Asthma, but useful:


Also published on Medium.

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