Asthma in children

Asthma is one of the most common chronic illnesses, and in children it is even the most common: it affects about every tenth child under the age of 15 and every eighth child under the age of ten. It is a chronic inflammation of the respiratory tract. This narrows the respiratory tracts, caused by swelling of the mucous membranes, increased formation of viscous mucus and cramping of the bronchi.

All three changes lead to shortness of breath and breathing out is difficult. This condition can increase when a seizure occurs if the child is in contact with one of the asthma triggers. In the first place these are birch, hazelnut and grass pollen, dog or cat hair, house dust mites, mould spores and sometimes foodstuffs. In principle, all allergens that cause hay fever can also lead to asthma and asthma attacks. Since bronchial tubes are hypersensitive, they do not tolerate cold and dust or physical exertion -  when sprinting or squash games require maximum performance. Even overwhelming emotions such as fear, anger or great joy can cause a seizure.

The asthma triggers are different. Therefore, asthma is divided into "allergic" and "non-allergic". Knowing these triggers is very important to keep your child away from them. However, the doctor cannot to tell you all the triggers and dangers in advance, as asthma is a complex disease with different effects. Just as important as medical advice is that you yourself become an expert and learn to assess the condition of the bronchial tubes. This applies both to you as a parent and to your asthma-affected child. In this way it can feel how much stress it can bear and avoid the danger zone. This also applies to sport. For a long time, asthma exempted children from physical education to protect them. However, according to current knowledge, this is not the right way forward. On the one hand, the children feel excluded and well-dosed physical exertion is healthy for the respiratory tract. Children should take part in physical education. Many sports are suitable, swimming, cycling, jogging or football. However, sports with short-term peak performances should be approached cautiously. It is also very important that the child always has his emergency spray with him in case of sudden shortness of breath. You must inform the physical education teacher bout your child's illness to challenge but not overtake him or her.

Even if the expert opinion on sport has changed, there is no all-clear signal for pets on another point, which is important for children. Animals with fur that live indoors are taboo for children with allergic asthma. It is almost 100 percent predictable that children with hay fever or mite allergy will develop asthma if such a pet would move in at home. As a parent, you have to be consistent and should not allow the keeping of a pet for your child's sake.

If you want to enable your child to have a carefree childhood, you as the parents have a responsible task, anyway. Your child is most likely unsettled and afraid of an asthma attack. Here you need a lot of patience and empathy, because your child needs you when he or she feels desperate, anxious and discouraged. On other days, it may also be angry and rebel if it has to do without something for the sake of illness. You can't spare your child his fate, but you can help him. Inform yourself, because the more you know about this disease, the more predictable it becomes and the more accurate you can sound out what your child is allowed and tolerated. This reduces the risk of seizures and avoids unnecessary restrictions.

Copyright: Landeszentrale fuer Gesundheitsfoerderung in Rheinland-Pfalz e.V. (LZG) Germany