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Asthma In Children

What Is Asthma in Children?

Monday, April 15, 2013 - 12:55

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Asthma is a condition that affects the air passages in the lungs. These air passages are made up of thousands of tiny tubes that bring the air in and out of the lungs.

It's a two-step problem:

  • When a child has asthma, the air passages are inflamed, which means they are red and swollen.
  • The inflammation of the air passages makes the air passages extra sensitive to a number of different things that can bring on asthma symptoms.

The things that can bring on asthma symptoms are often called "triggers," since they can trigger an attack. When the child is exposed a trigger, the oversensitive air passages react. They become narrower, swollen and more inflamed. This obstructs the air flow through the lungs, making it difficult for the child to breathe.

Why Do Some Children Get Asthma?

We don't know why. But we do know that some children are born with the tendency to develop asthma. Asthma is likely to run in families, though some children get it even if no close relatives are asthmatic. It seems that children who have allergies at a young age may be at greater risk of developing asthma.

Will Asthma Go Away?

Asthma is a chronic condition. This means that while it often looks like it goes away for a while, the inflammation of the air passages remains present all the time, though sometimes so slight that it is not noticed.

As long as the air passages are inflamed, asthma can flare up any time. But asthma often gets better in the teenage years, and in mild cases, may disappear completely. It may come back again in some adults - especially if they smoke, or something else irritates their lungs.

Although asthma cannot be cured, symptoms can often be prevented or minimized with good management. Success is most likely if you and your child:

  • Understand what asthma is
  • Make efforts to avoid known triggers when possible
  • Learn how to manage asthma symptoms effectively

Facts About Asthma In Children

  • Asthma is common. As many as 5 million youngsters in the U.S. are known to have it, and it goes undiagnosed in many more.
  • This means that millions of parents are involved in their child's asthma care.
  • Although asthma cannot be cured, with proper treatment it can be effectively controlled, allowing your child to enjoy a trouble-free and fully active life. Indeed, up to 10% of America's best athletes have asthma!
  • But if asthma is not adequately controlled, it's hard for children to lead a normal life. They may often be unable to join in some sports and play, may miss a lot of school, and there may be many visits to the emergency department.
  • Parents need to become a partner in their child's treatment.

 

Asthma In Children