Asthma is the most common chronic disease in childhood. One out of four children in Europe and, as of 2016, 6.1 million children in the world have been diagnosed with asthma. 80% of these children have been diagnosed with asthma during their first 6 years of life. To prevent missed school days & possible hospitalizations and to help you better manage this disease, we gathered all you need to know about childhood asthma:
Factors affecting asthma in children
The perinatal period, the period immediately before and after birth, has been associated with the development of childhood asthma. Some factors found to affect childhood asthma are:
- Genetics: Although one specific gene hasn’t been identified, multiple genes are thought to contribute to the development of childhood asthma. The family history of both parents is an important factor as well as the inherited tendency to develop allergies. Also, until puberty, boys have a smaller airway size compared to girls, and this makes boys more susceptible to developing childhood asthma. Further research regarding this is still going on.
- The Environment: Maternal diet and habits have been found responsible for the development of childhood asthma. Tobacco smoking during pregnancy and diets with high sugar intake are triggering factors for this development.
- Natal Risk Factors: Extreme preterm birth is another risk factor for childhood asthma development. In the case of a preterm birth, the lungs of the child is not fully developed, and, therefore, the child is more susceptible.
- Airway infections at a very young age.
Are the symptoms different?
No, childhood asthma and on-set adulthood asthma have the same symptoms including shortness of breath, chest tightness, chest congestion, coughing, fatigue, and wheezing when breathing out.
Can my child outgrow asthma?
Children diagnosed with asthma might experience no/fewer symptoms as they get older. However, these symptoms may recur later in life. No scientific evidence to highlight puberty's influence on asthma has been found.
What to do?
With your healthcare provider, create a road map to manage your disease:
- Regular spirometry: Track your symptoms by conducting regular lung function tests and identify your respiratory patterns. This will allow you to have a better sense of self-management for your disease. Some asthmatic attacks can be predicted beforehand and, thus, prevented.
- Inhalers and nebulizers: These are long-term medications that are used to keep asthma symptoms under control and have effects like relaxing the airway muscles.
- Quick-relief or rescue asthma medications: These provide rapid, short-term symptom relief during asthma flares.
- Identify your asthma triggers: Avoid your exposure to those triggers.
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- “Asthma and Children Fact Sheet.” American Lung Association, www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/asthma/learn-about-asthma/asthma-children-facts-sheet?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F.
- Trivedi, Michelle, and Eve Denton. “Asthma in Children and Adults-What Are the Differences and What Can They Tell us About Asthma?.” Frontiers in pediatrics vol. 7 256. 25 Jun. 2019, doi:10.3389/fped.2019.00256