November 25, 2006

Childhood illness - Asthma


Asthma usually starts out uneventfully and therein the danger lies. As with any condition, if you catch asthma in its earlier stages it will be easier to control and suppress, but the initial symptoms can be hard to diagnose. Initial symptoms of asthma include: A change in breathing, sneezing,
moodiness, headache, runny/stuffy nose, coughing, itching of the chin or throat, drowsiness, & insomnia. If not caught early-on asthma will progress with a vengeance and become harder to contain. In contrast to the early warning signs of asthma, these symptoms are harder to ignore. They include: wheezing, shortness of breath & tightness of the chest. If even these symptoms not caught, a severe attack may occur. Such an attack is very dangerous to the patient and requires hospital attention. By this point it is highly unlikely that the attack will be able to be curbed easily. A severe attack usually constitutes respiratory distress. Symptoms are severe coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and/or tightness in the chest, difficulty focusing, talking and/or walking, shallow, extremely fast or slow breathing, hunched shoulders, flaring of the nostrils, retraction of the skin on the neck between or below the ribs due to hard, increased breathing, and a gray or bluish tint to skin, beginning around the mouth.

What Is Asthma
Asthma is a persistent lung condition characterized by the inflammation of the airways leading to the lungs, progressing to sensitivity and/or allergy of the lining of the airways. And finally, with asthma there is an obstruction of airflow by the blockage of the airways. Athma is one of the most common conditions for a child today, but is manageable if controlled properly.

Asthma is caused by inflammation of the lining in your throat and airways. Asthma can be caused by many different allergens, such as dust,
pet dander, odors, exercise, weather; even stress can be a determining factor. Each case is unique and discovering the causes of each patient is the key to preventing future outbreaks.

Diagnosis and Treatment
Asthma is usually diagnosed by studying the episodes that constituted the doctor’s visit in the first place. As stated before, researching and avoiding the causes of the patient’s outbreak is the primary treatment for outbreaks of asthma, although there are a few key classifications to make defining the cause of each patient’s asthma easier.

Exercise – Induced
Exercise has been known to cause asthma outbreaks, so treatment of such cases includes constant observation of breathing patterns through a peak-flow meter and observation of patient during activities.

Nocturnal asthma is categorized by outbreaks that worsen at night. Usually treatment of such cases includes searching for underlying causes and treating those first.

Steroid – Resistant
Treatment of asthmatics usually involves medication of some sort, usually in either liquid or inhaler form. Steroid – resistant asthma is characterized by patients who are resistant to steroid therapy (inhalers and such) and other measures must be taken.
Medication for Asthma can come in pill, liquid, and/or inhalers. Quick
relief is the key, since asthma worsens rapidly. Short-acting Beta-agonists relieve quickly to suppress asthma symptoms by relaxing the muscles around the inflamed airways. Anticholinergics are rapid-relief asthma medications, but they are slower than the short-acting beta-agonists. Steroid pills and syrups are usually used to curb severe asthma attacks. They ease the swelling and assist other asthma medicines in working better.
There are also long-term medications for children that include steroid inhalers, oral steroids and many, many other preventatives. Talk to your doctor about what is best for your child.

Adapted from SureBaby