Over 6 million American children suffer from asthma, with more than half of them suffering attacks in any given year. The disease causes narrowing airways, making breathing difficult and producing the characteristic wheeze that many patients experience during asthma episodes.
Without a management plan in place, uncontrolled asthma attacks can be dangerous and even life-threatening. Understanding and using the right mix of medications is important and so is discovering your child’s asthma triggers, conditions and environments that increase the risk and intensity of an episode.
Partnering with a pediatrician and asthma specialist like Dr. 2 Kids, Smita Tandon, MD, provides you with the medical knowledge and experience needed to navigate your child’s condition.
Causes of asthma aren’t fully understood, and this extends to why asthma attacks happen. Frequently, these attacks follow exposure to certain environmental conditions. While many of these conditions, called triggers, are common, each child may have their own combination.
Sometimes, the asthmatic reaction to a trigger isn’t immediate, so it can be tricky to pinpoint the underlying conditions. Asthma symptoms can also be shared with bronchitis or other respiratory issues. Consider keeping a log of your child’s attacks so you can consider recent factors that may have played a role, while they’re fresh in memory.
Asthma triggers can stem from other health conditions your child has, medications they take, exposure to environmental conditions, or any combination of these.
Having a cold, flu, allergic reaction, or any other disease or condition that causes respiratory issues could contribute to an asthma attack. These can sometimes create potentially serious conditions for your child. A cold on its own isn’t usually dangerous, but its congestion on top of asthmatic airway restrictions can make breathing very difficult.
Second-hand tobacco smoke is frequently an issue for asthmatics, and other air pollutants can cause similar effects, even from something as simple as smoke from a campfire. Pollution from factories, chemical fumes, cleaning supplies, detergents, and even perfumes and fragrances may also be to blame.
Cold air is sometimes enough to trigger an asthma attack, so the winter months could be accompanied by more frequent or more severe episodes. Thunderstorms and high humidity act as triggers for some, where dry air is a problem for others. When your child participates in sports or other vigorous activities, the exertion can become an asthma trigger.
Pet dander carries proteins that trigger allergies, which then in turn set off asthma episodes. Similar proteins can become airborne when pests such as cockroaches and mice are present. Insect sprays or foggers to control pests become potentially troublesome environmental pollutants.
Drugs to help migraines, high blood pressure, and heart disease can act as asthma triggers, but they aren’t typically prescribed to children. Aspirin and other over the counter pain medications that may be given to children can also be an issue, so watch closely for increased asthma symptoms.
When asthma symptoms persist or seem to increase, contact Dr. 2 Kids, Smita Tandon, MD, for further care. You can reach the office by phone or online to schedule your child’s visit.