Childhood Asthma and the Prepared Parent

According to a recent study by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 6 million reported cases of childhood asthma in the US. This goes to show that childhood asthma is a very common disease. This explains why asthma is one of the top 5 most common causes of emergency room visits by children under the age of 15. So, as a parent, you should remain vigilant and ensure that you are equipped with proactive measures to help you protect your child’s well-being and reduce chances of them suffering from asthma. Today, we want to take a deeper look into childhood asthma, symptoms, its causes and how to be prepared as a parent to tackle the menace. So, what is childhood asthma?

Childhood Asthma

Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition characterized by spams in the bronchi of the lungs making it difficult to breathe. The disease affects your child’s airways and makes them more sensitive to certain triggers. Such triggers include cold, dust, certain perfumes and even pollen from certain flowers. When the inflamed airways come into contact with the triggers, they cause the body to react in a number of ways. The muscles around the walls of the airways might get so tight that breathing becomes very difficult. The lining of the airways may become inflamed and might start to flare up and swell. Alternatively, there might be a buildup of phlegm which narrows the airways and makes it even more difficult to breathe. These are proceeded by chest tightness, wheezing and uncontrollable coughing.

Causes of asthma

There isn’t a clear known cause of asthma but it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It is believed that asthma is an inherited condition and runs in certain generations. Children in such a family line are more prone to asthma attacks and will react to the various triggers in their environment. These triggers range from cold air, dust, respiratory infections to strong emotions and stress. Children will experience different symptoms when exposed to these triggers. The most common Symptoms of asthma among children include;

Shortness of breath
Chest tightness and pain sometimes
Difficulties sleeping because of shortness of breath and excessive coughing
Wheezing when exhaling. This is a whistling sound in children when they are coughing or just exhaling.

Cure for childhood asthma

Since the exact cause of childhood asthma is not known to date, there is no known cure for asthma in the US. Scientists and doctors are however working on possible routes to help cure the disease. The good news however, is that there are very many safe and effective asthma treatments available to manage asthma in children. Talk to you family doctor for the best treatment option that suits your child and he/she will prescribe the medication that will help supress the symptoms of asthma.

Childhood asthma management and parent preparedness tips

Although it cannot be cured, being knowledgeable and prepared as a parent can help manage the severity of childhood asthma. By preparedness, it means that you should be aware of the exact triggers of the asthma symptoms in your child and strive hard to make sure that your children don’t come into contact with the triggers at all costs.

You should also work closely with your doctor or allergist to determine the perfect medication that will help suppress the symptoms of the asthma in your child. Know the exact type of medication, the specific dosage, when to administer it to the child and how to administer the same to the affected child. Teach the children from an early age as well on how to take the medication and when they should do so. Make the medication accessible to them at all times because you never know when the asthma attacks set in.

Educate your child to stay aware from the triggers when in school or playing. Explain to them the meaning of triggers and the importance of staying away from them. Help them understand what they should do in case they have an asthma attack.

As a parent, make sure that you know of the closest emergency room where you can take your child to in case of an asthma attack. Before travelling with your child, make sure you know of the emergency rooms available in the area you are headed for and this will help you in case of an emergency.

Alert everyone who interacts with the child of their condition. Tell the child’s school and friends that he/she is suffering from asthma and this way, they will know what to do in case of an emergency.

Take your child for regular checkups and even if he/she is not suffering from asthma, get them checked by a qualified physician. This way, you will be sure of their condition and know of the best way to manage their condition.

What is Secondary Drowning?

Secondary Drowning is a term most parents do not recognize. Nor do they understand that it can be fatal to their young children. Secondary drowning is a condition where a small amount of inhaled fluid (such as water) remains in the lung or lungs and irritates the lung(s) and leading to leakage of additional bodily fluids into the lung(s). Often secondary drowning happens when a small child inhales water at the swimming pool – but it can happen in the bathtub too. However, it is not limited to water – it could be milk or juice or other liquid.

In serious cases the small child is experiencing pulmonary edema – a condition where the body actually pushes more fluids into the lung(s). This accumulation of fluids over time reduces the child’s ability to breathe properly and can lead to the child drowning in its bodily fluids – hence the term secondary drowning.

The World Health Organization issued a report about ten years ago that was designed to improve prevention and reporting of drowning. According to the organization, there are six types of drowning and secondary drowning is only one of those.

What are the Symptoms of Secondary Drowning?

After inhaling water or other fluid, the child is:

  • very tired
  • unusual cough
  • unusual behaviour
  • difficulty breathing
  • coughing and wheezing
  • non-responsive

What is the Time Period?

The time period can be short – an hour or two – or up to 3 days. Every situation is different so it is critical that the parents take action if they observe any of the symptoms mentioned earlier. DO NOT PUT THE CHILD IN BED FOR THE NIGHT.

Does Secondary Drowning cause Death?

Yes. And it can happen quickly. There have been numerous cases of parents not recognizing the symptoms and putting their child to bed for the night – and the child never wakes up. If you have any doubts about your child’s condition then it is best to be cautious and take the child to a doctor or emergency room.

And please share you knowledge of secondary drowning with others – especially parents with young children.

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Polio Has Returned

Polio is Back: What This Means for You

Polio is a disease that most medical communities predicted would be completely eradicated by 2014.  In fact, last year there were only about 400 cases worldwide.  Unfortunately, due to poor vaccination policies, this virus is back in action with the World Health Organization recently declaring it “a public health emergency of international concern.”

What is polio?

Polio, also known as poliomyelitis, is a viral infection that causes spinal and neural damage that can lead to breathing problems, nerve damage, paralysis, and possibly death.  This highly contagious disease is most commonly spread through hand-to-mouth contact from feces contaminated water or food.

Only about 5% of those infected will have severe symptoms, but the other 95% become carriers of the disease, which has no cure, but is completely preventable through vaccination.

Who is affected?

Up until last year, the disease had been virtually wiped out with Pakistan, Cameroon, and Syria being the major exceptions.  Unfortunately, the poor sanitation found in these war-torn countries, along with weak vaccination policies, has made them susceptible as a breeding ground for the virus.

Other countries, such as Afghanistan and China who are now getting instances of polio, have tracked them back to travelers who were not properly vaccinated. Children and the elderly, who are typically the most vulnerable of the population, are also the ones most affected by the recent polio outbreak.

What steps need to be taken?

Since much of the world was vaccinated when they were young, there is very little in the way of individual prevention now – since the polio vaccination does not require a booster later in life.  Because of this, most healthy adults don’t need to take further action against polio if they will not be traveling internationally.

However, in an extreme action to reclaim 25 years of work against polio, WHO is now mandating that international travelers of all ages need to be vaccinated if they will be leaving the Middle East or Central Africa and carry proof of vaccination with them while out of the country.  They also recommend that anyone going to these areas get a preemptive vaccination.

With worldwide prevention cooperation, polio can once again get back on track for full global eradication.

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