May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month and Northwest Assistance Ministries’ Pediatric Health Center treats children who suffer from asthma every day, and to help their families learn to cope they provide each family with an Asthma Toolkit booklet. The booklet provides information about asthma, an asthma action plan, medications, and more.
More than six million children in America have asthma. It is the most common long-term lung disease in children in the United States. Young children, school-age children and teenagers can have asthma. Asthma affects boys and girls of every race from all parts of the world. More children receive treatment for asthma than ever before.
Children with asthma can live and lead normal lives. Managing asthma is the key. The goal is control. When asthma is controlled, children/youth:
- Have no signs of asthma.
- Need rescue medicine less than three times per week.
- Exercise and play like other children.
- Sleep comfortably through the night.
- Go to school and work regularly.
- Have no asthma-related hospital or emergency room visits.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is an illness that affects the lungs and causes coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath. To understand what is happening during asthma, it is helpful to know about the lungs and how they work.
Each person has two lungs. Each lung has many little breathing tubes called bronchial tubes. Muscles are around each breathing tube. The breathing tubes carry the air to tiny air sacs in our lungs called alveoli. These alveoli are like balloons that fill with air when we breathe in and shrink when we breathe out. The air we breathe in must enter these air sacs before it can get to the rest of our body.
When you have asthma your breathing tubes are very sensitive. The lungs overreact to certain things called triggers. When this happens the child may have coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing.
Certain things make asthma worse. Asthma triggers may be different for each person. Try to learn what triggers your child’s asthma and have a control plan.
In most children, asthma is related to allergies. Some allergens are around all year while some are seasonal. Allergens can be indoors or outdoors.
- Mold and pollen
- Dust mites
- Dogs, cats, birds
Other triggers can include:
- Weather and season changes.
- Cold and virus are the most common triggers in young children.
- Sinus infections can also be a trigger.
- Irritants such as cigarette smoke, air-pollution, wood-burning stoves and fireplaces, dust, perfume, strong odors, cleaning supplies, air fresheners, and paints.
- Emotions such as stress or excitement can sometimes trigger asthma.
- Playing hard at recess, gym or sports can trigger asthma, but if the asthma is under control children with asthma can do the same activities as their friends.
What is an Asthma Action Plan?
Every child needs an Asthma Action Plan. The Asthma Action Plan will help the child manage their asthma every day. Contact your child’s doctor or nurse to get a specially designed Asthma Action Plan. Everyone who helps take care of the child should have a copy of the plan. Don’t forget to add school, daycare, babysitters, sports coaches, and grandparents.
If you believe your child may be suffering from asthma and would like to have him or her examined, please call NAM’s Pediatric Health Center at 281-885-4630. Hours of operation are Monday – Thursday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The Pediatric Health Center will work with families so they can learn more about asthma and how to set up an asthma action plan.