What Exactly is Asthma?


Did you know that in the United States, nearly 26 million people have asthma. More than 7 million of those diagnosed are children. Why? Children have smaller airways than adults, making asthma especially serious for them. In kids with asthma, the lungs and airways become easily inflamed and can swell and narrow. This makes it harder for air to get through. When children are exposed to certain triggers (such as inhaled airborne pollen, colds or other respiratory infections), asthma can cause daily symptoms that interrupt play, sports, school and even sleep .

Is my asthma the same as my child’s?
Childhood asthma is the same disease as adult asthma, but children have different challenges. Asthma in children is a leading cause of emergency room visits, hospitalizations and missed school days. Also, parents have to leave work to take care of a sick child. The financial strain that asthma can have on school-age children, families, and society is quite large, and the Enhancing Care for Children with Asthma project is working to join public health efforts to better control asthma in children. Childhood asthma can't be cured, but it can be managed, and for many, asthma symptoms often continue into adulthood.

What do we need to avoid?
Children with asthma may experience wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and trouble breathing, especially early in the morning or at night. Many things can cause asthma, including:

  • Allergens - mold, pollen, animals
  • Irritants - cigarette smoke, air pollution
  • Weather - cold air, changes in weather
  • Exercise – include examples to fit the formatting of the other bullets?
  • Infections - flu, common cold

But with the right treatment, you and your child can keep symptoms under control and prevent damage to growing lungs.

When asthma symptoms get worse than usual, it becomes an asthma attack. Asthma is treated with two medicines: quick-relief medicines to stop asthma symptoms and long-term control medicines to prevent symptoms.

When your child has asthma, the condition is always there, even when things are going fine. However, symptoms can flare up at any time, or, medicine might not work as well as before. It may be that your child has to use quick-relief medicine every day to stop asthma attacks. This can mean the asthma is getting worse. Don’t wait! Speak up if this happens. Talk to your child’s doctor to see if you need to change the treatment. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to reduce the chance of this happening. By following an Asthma Action Plan, most kids with asthma can do all the enjoyable things they want to do with few, if any, symptoms. Your child will feel better — and have more fun — when asthma is controlled.

To learn more about Asthma and the Taking on Asthma initiative, visit our website!


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