What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your airways. Your airways are tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. If you have asthma, the inside walls of your airways become sore and swollen and clogged with mucus. Asthma is a very common problem in children and it might occur at any age. Most children develop asthma by the age of four or five.Children with asthma may experience:
- Chest tightness
- Coughing, and trouble breathing, especially early in the morning or at night.
What causes Asthma?
Many risk factors might lead to asthma. The most common ones are:
- A family history of asthma.
- Certain types of viral infections in early childhood.
- Environmental factors, such as exposure to cigarette smoke, pollen , air pollution, etc.
How do I know if my child has Asthma?
The doctor will ask you detailed questions about your child’s medical history, examine him/her, and request some tests, such as:
- Breathing test (spirometry): this test is applied to children who are six years of age or older. Your child will be asked to take in a very deep breath and blow out as much as he /she can into a tube connected to a computer. the computer will measure the amount of air your child breathes in and out, and the time it takes him/her to breathe the air out.
- Allergy test: there are two kinds of tests, a blood and a skin test. during a skin test, the doctor places mall amounts of possible allergens on your child’s skin and checks the skin’s reaction.
What makes Asthma worse?
Your child’s symptoms might worsen due to certain triggers that lead to an “asthma attack”. the reaction to asthma triggers differs from one child to another. Your child might also develop an attack without any apparent trigger.The most common triggers include:
- Viral infection such as cold or flu
- Cigarette smoke
- Some animals dander (fur, feathers, skin cells, etc,)or miles
- Some plants, flowers, and trees
- Strong smells (perfumes, deodorants, cleaners)
- Dust, air pollution, wood smoke, and bush fires
- Laughter and stress
- Physical activity
- Weather changes
- Some medications
What is the treatment for Asthma?
It is true that asthma is a long-term disease that has no cure, but proper treatment can control asthma and its effects. Most importantly, treatment decreases the symptoms and the frequency of attacks and allows your child to have a normal lifestyle. The doctor will give your child medications to treat asthma. Some medications will be prescribed for a short period of time and would yield a quick relief after an attack. However, some medications will be taken on a regular basis for prolonged periods of time.The most common medications include:
They are medications that relax the tight muscles around your child’s airways. They allow the airways to dilate (open up), and eventually improve your child’s breathing by allowing air to move in and out of the lungs easier. Two kinds of bronchodilators are beta-2-agonists and anticholinergics.
-Beta-2 agonists:They are of two types: short-acting beta agonists. The short-acting, such as albuterol(in ventolin), starts working within minutes and its effects last up to few hours (four to six hours).it quickly relieves shortness of breath. The long acting, such as Salmeterol, Formoterol and Indacterol, starts working after 20 minutes and its effects last up to 12 hours. Possible side effects of beta agonists include rapid heartbeat, tremors (shakiness),and nervousness.
-Anticholinergics: the short – acting anticholinergics, such as ipratropium starts working in 15 minutes and its effects last for six to eight hours. Possible side effects of anticholinergics include dry mouth and difficulty in urinating.
They are medications that decrease the inflammation and swelling of the airways. your child might take the steroids by inhalers or by pills or suspension. Inhaled steroids are generally safe. Possible side effects of inhaled steroids include sore mouth, hoarseness of voice, and fungus infection of the mouth. Systemic steroids (taken by pills or suspension) have many side effects, including water retention, Increased appetite, weight gain, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, muscle loss , and bone loss (osteoporosis).
Therefore, they should be taken for short period of time for treatment of severe attacks only.
Some inhalers combine the two types of bronchodilators, beta-2 agonist and anticholinergics, or combine a bronchodilator with inhaled steroids.
- Know your child’s symptoms and learn how to treat them.
- Know your child’s triggers ad try to avoid them as much as possible.
- Make sure your child takes medications properly and as prescribed by the doctor.
- Keep on short acting inhaler (the one your child uses in case of attacks) with him/her at all times. Keep another one at home, school, grandparents ‘house, etc.
- Schedule regular visits to your child’s doctor.
- Make sure everyone involved in your child’s care (such as school teacher) Is well-informed about his/her asthma, its symptoms ,and possible interventions in case of an attack.
When should I call my child’s doctor?
- If the asthma symptoms are getting worse despite using the inhaler,or if your child has to use the inhaler more frequently than every four hours.
- If your child is coughing up yellow, dark brown, or bloody mucus.
Does my Insurance Policy cover Asthma?
Yes. According to CCHI unified Policy terms and conditions, health insurance policies in Saudi Arabia should cover the treatment of asthma.Please Click Here to access the Unified CCHI Policy Wordings.
References:"Asthma." Childhood Asthma. N.p., Apr. 2016. Web. Aug. 2016.
"Asthma." Rules. N.p., n.d. Web. Aug. 2016.