Asthma is a common chronic disease worldwide and affects approximately 24 million persons in the United States. Here in Nigeria, asthma has a prevalence of between 7% and 18%. It is the most common chronic disease in childhood, affecting an estimated 7 million children.
Signs and symptoms of asthma include:
-Wheezing or whistling sound when exhaling (breathing out); usually this is the first sign.
-Coughing (worse at night)
-Shortness of breath
and Chest tightness/pain
Other nonspecific symptoms in infants or young children may be:
- a history of recurrent lower respiratory tract problems
- a persistent cough with colds
- and/or recurrent chest rattling.
- Fatigue which can be caused by lack of sleep
Asthma symptoms vary with each child and may subside or worsen with increasing age.
How is asthma managed?
For all but the most severely affected people, the ultimate goal is to prevent symptoms, minimize morbidity from acute episodes, and prevent functional and psychological morbidity while providing a healthy (or near healthy) lifestyle appropriate to the age of child.
Some measures taken to manage asthma include:
Drug treatment: which involves the use of drugs such as relievers (which give rapid and short-term relief of symptoms) and controllers (which prevent reoccurrence of an asthma attack by keeping symptoms under control) to relieve asthma symptoms or keep them under control.
Asthma medications are added or deleted as the frequency and severity of the patient’s symptoms change.
Allergen avoidance: Avoiding factors or circumstances that trigger an asthma attack (allergens). eg. dust, extreme weather conditions, smoke, pollen, insects.etc.
Environmental exposures and irritants can play a strong role in worsening symptoms.
Once the offending factors (allergens) are identified, people suffering from asthma should ensure they keep away from them.
If you notice any of the above signs or symptoms in your child, take him/her to the hospital for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.