What You Should Know About Your Child’s Asthma & How to Manage It

A young girl using her inhalerNo parent wants their child to have a chronic disease that makes their life difficult or presents difficulties or discomfort. It happens and it is often out of a parents’ control but that doesn’t mean that your child has to be deprived of a normal childhood or experience a major disruption in his life. Asthma has been studied for years and people go on to live active and healthy lifestyles with chronic disease. Let’s take a look at a little bit of the history of this well-known and common respiratory disease and how you can help your child manage it. 

First off, if you have a child who has been diagnosed with asthma, you don’t have to feel alone. As your local pediatrician’s office, we help you and your child learn about the disease, how to manage, and how to deal with possible asthma attacks. More than 26 million people in the United States have asthma and about 6 million of these are children. The World Health Organization estimates that that number has increased by about 6o percent since the 1980s. 

The Historic Origins of the Respiratory Illness

Some people make the case that an illness commonly referred to as a type of ‘breathlessness’  in ancient Chinese and Egyptian scriptures is likely a reference to early asthma cases. Respiratory distress is nothing new, and many ancient societies struggled with this throughout history. Hippocrates described the unique characteristics of asthma in ancient Greece, and it was then that the disease became known by its current name. 

Among many of the breakthrough contributions, Hippocrates gave to modern medicine was the first time that asthma was linked to some environmental factors and saw the connection between certain professions—like metalwork—as direct contributors to respiratory disease. It was not until some time later that the symptoms that Hippocrates described were deemed as asthma and that it was described in similar modern terms. Early recommendations for asthma included drinking a concoction of owl’s blood and wine, which is no longer recommended, especially not to children!

In the 19th century, a doctor named Henry Hyde Salter began drawing what happens in the lungs when people are suffering from asthma. These drawings gave people an insight into how asthma was a “paroxysmal dyspnoea” that had intervals of healthy respiration plagued by occasional attacks. Bronchial spasms were a common symptom cited, as well as others that resembled allergic reactions. 

Different Types of Treatments

There have been four different types of treatments used for asthma over the past 100 years. First, there were Belladonna alkaloids, derived from the thorn-apple plant. Western medicine began using adrenergic stimulants about 100 years ago. Widely used treatments featuring corticosteroids were introduced in the mid-1900s. And for more than 35 years inhaled corticosteroids have been in use. Medical scientists discovered early on that asthma was episodic and was exacerbated by certain environmental allergens and knew that the treatment of asthma including treating the patient during fits and between fits. 

Early asthma medication focused on muscle spasms instead of inflammation and this led to the prescription of bronchodilators. These had soothing effects on a short term basis without addressing underlying immune issues. 

How to Help Your Child With Asthma 

Many parents wonder how they can help ease their child’s asthma or want to know how to help them in case of an attack. 

  1. The first thing to do if you suspect your child might have asthma is take them to their trusted pediatrician. This way your doctor can safely diagnose them and figure out how severe their asthma might be. 
  2. Vaccinate against the seasonal flu. Studies have shown that getting a flu shot can actually help, or at least reduce the risk, of coming down with the flu and because viral infections typically worsen asthma or cause flare-ups. 
  3. Provide your child with plenty of colorful fruits and veggies. A healthy diet is always important but you’ll be surprised to know that foods such as apples, pumpkins, squashes, and carrots are bursting with flavonoids and carotenoids. These support respiratory health. 
  4. Provide lots of fish. More studies show that fish and fish oil supplements decrease the risk for asthma.  As always, discuss any supplements with your doctor before you give them to a child. 
  5. Have a plan. Talk to your doctor about the right plan to have when your child starts to cough, wheeze, or have an attack. Your doctor can provide you with the right steps that allow your child to stop from panicking and give you the steps to follow in order to see them through. Eventually, this will teach your child some stress management and help them cope with the attacks wherever they are. 

Pay Us a Visit and Arm Yourself With Knowledge

Think your child has asthma? Come by or call us! We can help you find out more about what asthma is all about and the best way to manage it with your child, depending on age, circumstances, and severity. Call us today. EP Family and Pediatrics is here to help. 


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