by Katelyn Schwanke
(last updated September 5, 2008)
For generations parents have been asking whether or not their child will outgrow their asthma and unfortunately the answer is no. When your physician informs of you of this, do not feel grim because there are a variety of effective and simple treatment options for your child.
Before discussing treatment options, you should be aware of what well managed asthma appears like in a child. Children with well managed asthma have few to no symptoms, no limitations on physical activity and no side affects from use of medication. Your child should be relatively free from wheezing, excessive coughing and sneezing and be able to avoid tightness in the chest and dizziness. Your treatment plan for reaching these target goals includes medication that prevents attacks and medication that acts to stop attack once one has begun. Medications that prevent asthma attacks are anti-inflammatory drugs and medication prescribed to stop an attack works as a bronchodilator (to be discussed). Beyond medication your child needs to be aware of what triggers mild, moderate and severe asthma attacks so that those activities or exposure to irritants can be limited.
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advair, Flovent and Singulair are based on hormones produced in the body called corticosteroids. These corticosteroids are created naturally in the body and act directly to reduce inflammation in tissues. Synthetically produced (made in the laboratory) corticosteroids act similarly to reduce inflammation in lung tubes called bronchioles (air passages that carry oxygen). These drugs open up passage ways so that asthma attacks can be prevented. When the body responds to an allergen the natural response in an asthmatic is inflammation but these anti-inflammatory drugs prevent this, thus preventing an attack.
Bronchodilators are drugs that are fast acting and widen passages so that an adequate amount of air can pass through. During an attack these bronchodilators are administered via an inhaler. An inhaler administers a set amount of the drug through the mouth. Your child can simply inhale quickly, press down on the top of the device and stop an asthma attack almost immediately. Speak to your doctor about the dangers of self-administering too much medication; an excess of this medication can result in dangerously low blood pressure and which can be deadly.
Beyond the medications discussed, your child should be careful around animals, be aware of his/her physical limitations and know how to find help if symptoms worsen. As your child learns to live with asthma, they will soon find that if it is controlled properly they can live life normally and with very few limitations.
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