Asthma attacks are common in children. Millions of children have asthma all over the world. Asthma is more common in young boys than young girls. However, after puberty, asthma will become more common in girls. Asthma is a respiratory condition which affects the airways, specifically the bronchi. Children with asthma have more sensitive than normal lung airways.
Asthma attacks occur when a trigger, something that irritates the lungs, narrows the airways. The lining then becomes inflamed, whereas the muscles constrict. Moreover, there is an increased production of sticky sputum (phlegm).Not all asthma attacks are severe and will required emergency medical services.
Causes of Asthma Attack in Children
The precise cause of asthma has not yet been determined. When symptoms of asthma worsen, it leads to asthma attack. Any of the following may cause asthma attacks. The following are called triggers:
- Viral respiratory infections, especially of upper respiratory tract(most common)
- Air pollution, such as tobacco smoke
- Allergens, such as pollens, dust mites, etc.
- Contact with animals, especially cats
- Indoor conditions
- Weather conditions
- Exercise, especially in cold weather
- Emotional factors, such as laughing or stress
- Certain medications
Risk Factors of Asthma Attack in Children
There are several risk factors that come into play and may increase a child’s risk to asthma attacks:
- Family history of asthma or other related allergic conditions
- Child has acute bronchiolitis
- Child has another atopic condition
- Child is exposed to tobacco smoke or if the mother smoked during pregnancy
- Premature baby or with born with low birth weight
Symptoms of Asthma Attack in Children
Symptoms of asthma attack vary in children and may either progress to better or worse as time passes. The bronchospasm, inflammation and mucus production result to the following symptoms:
- Trouble breathing, very quick breathing or short breaths, which may lead to trouble sleeping
- Wheezing or whistling sound during expiration
- Frequent coughing that does not cease
- Chest tightness
- Tightened muscles of the neck and chest
- Blue lips or fingernails (cyanosis)
- Pale, sweating face
- Difficulty talking
- Feeling panic or anxiety
First Aid for Asthma Attack in Children
Asthma attacks in children can be treated at home but may require medical visit. Rarely are they life-threatening. There is no cure to asthma attack, however, the symptoms can be relieved with proper management.
- Stay calm and comfort the child. Do not leave the child alone at all times.
- Assist the child into sitting upright.
- If the child has his/ her own inhaler, make use of this. If none, borrow one. Give one puff of a reliever inhaler after every four to six breaths. Give four separate puffs. Use a spacer, if available.
- After four minutes, give another four separate puffs.
- If the child still has trouble breathing, call for emergency medical services. Continue giving four separate puffs every four minutes until help arrives.
It is highly recommended for parents with children who have asthma to join in first aid courses. The article above is for mere information but does not teach proper handling of these cases. To learn more about asthma attacks in children and management, join in St Mark James First Aid Training.