Do children have asthma?
Yes they do.
Asthma is a chronic reversible, obstructive upper air way disease; characterized by narrowing of the airways and secretion of thick mucus plug which makes breathing difficult and initiates persistent coughing.
Acute exacerbation occurs when one is exposed to a trigger. Asthma diagnosis is not made until a child attains an age, where test of respiratory function can be effectively done; which is about 8 years of age. However, presence of symptoms in younger children is termed Reactive Upper Airway Disease (RAD).
How do I know my child has Reactive Airway Disease?
1) Frequent Coughing spells which usually occurs at night may occur during play or while laughing or crying. Such cough usually does not get resolved with use of conventional cough syrup and persists despite antibiotic use.
2) Whistling sound when breathing in or out. This is called wheezing. Wheezing occurs as a result of air passing through a narrowed upper air way. It is sometimes accompanied by shallow breathing or shortness of breath, chest tightness (chest hurting) and sometimes loss of breath.
3) See-saw motions in the chest from labored breathing, obvious flaring of the nasal wings, tiredness or weakness following short activities.
It is very well common that when parents can identify and avoid trigger factors, the disease is as good as cured.
Identifiable triggers include;
· Respiratory infection
· Smoke (primary or secondary)
· Allergic reactions/triggers such as pollen, mold, animal dander, feather, dust, food, cockroaches
· Exposure to cold
· Sudden exposure to cold air or dry air
· Stressful situation
Because RAD is the third cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15 years and the second leading cause of absenteeism from school, proper attention should be paid by parents and care givers to identifying and preventing acute exacerbations.
By Dr Badmus Olowu