Most people associate asthma with sudden bouts of coughing and wheezing, but the disease is actually present 24 hours a day. If your teen has asthma, the tubes that carry air to his lungs are inflamed and may be swollen and clogged with mucus. This condition may not hinder her breathing, but it does pave the way for asthma attacks. An inflamed airway is very sensitive, and something seemingly harmless like dust, cold air, or exercise can cause the muscles lining the airway to suddenly compress, leaving little room for air to pass.
How do I know if my teenage son has asthma?
Asthma symptoms can mimic those of pneumonia, bronchitis, allergies, or even a cold, so they aren’t always obvious. Wheezing and coughing (especially at night) are the most common symptoms of an asthma attack, but other signs — chest tightness or shortness of breath — are also indicators of asthma.
If your teen’s symptoms prevent him from sleeping through the night or if they interfere with his normal activities, he may have asthma. The doctor should examine your child to determine whether or not he has it, and whether he does how severe the disease is for his lungs. Keep in mind that many teens with asthma also have allergies; If your teen has hay fever or other allergic reactions, take any sign of asthma seriously. Also, since colds and other respiratory infections often lead to seizures, you should suspect asthma if your teen continues to cough long after the illness is gone.
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What can I do to prevent attacks?
Try to protect your teen from allergies and irritants that usually lead to seizures. No family member should smoke in the house at all, and urge your teen not to smoke; They should also avoid inhaling secondhand smoke. Vacuum your floors regularly, clean her room of major dust traps like potted plants, rugs, and rugs, and get bedding made of non-allergic materials. If you are allergic to your pets, seek advice from an allergist. Meanwhile, keep them outside or at least outside her room. (Washing your pet regularly is also effective.) If she only has asthma attacks in the spring and fall, try to limit her exposure to pollen—a possible cause of seasonal allergies—by keeping windows closed and installing filters in the air conditioner. When she goes out in cold weather, remind her to breathe through her nose and suggest she cover her mouth with a lid.
Doctors have long speculated that strong emotions can trigger an asthma attack, and a study from the University of Buffalo in New York supports this theory. The research found that young adults have nearly twice the rate of depression compared to their non-asthmatic peers and that having depression can worsen their asthma symptoms. In addition, another study found that children who faced threats such as street violence were twice as likely to display asthma symptoms as other children. For these reasons, some psychologists recommend suggesting a counseling date for your child if she appears depressed or under severe stress.
Can my teen still exercise and play sports?
definitely. Many Olympic and professional athletes suffer from asthma, and there is no reason why your teen shouldn’t play his favorite sports. If she is prone to attacks during exercise, you may need to use an inhaler just before exercise. Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for anyone with asthma because the warm, humid air around a warm pool makes breathing easier. Sports that require constant movement, such as soccer, can be particularly challenging, but your teen will almost certainly find a way to stay in the game. The inhaler should always be near her, in case she needs it.
Doctors use two types of medication: one that reduces inflammation (a “controller”) and one that opens the airways (“analgesic”).
Corticosteroids and similar medications — inhaled, injected, or taken as tablets — can reduce inflammation in a teen’s airways and make attacks less likely. Bronchodilators, which are spray medicines usually taken with an inhaler, can make breathing easier by relaxing the muscles that compress the airways during an asthma attack. If your child is still struggling to breathe after using the inhaler more than twice, call 911 or take her to the emergency room right away.
An asthma diary and a peak flowmeter — a tool that measures how well your child is breathing — can also be an important part of a treatment plan. By regularly using a peak flowmeter to measure the strength of her breath and by tracking the number and intensity of her seizures in a journal, your teen can give his doctor information that allows him to assess how well treatments are working. Recording what she was doing or feeling before she had an asthma attack also helps determine which triggers to avoid. Based on this knowledge, the doctor may change your teen’s medications to give him better control of the disease.
How do I encourage my teenage daughter to take her medicine?
Even if your teenage daughter has had asthma since elementary school, you may suddenly find it difficult to stick to her treatment. In fact, one study found that although children and teens did not use adequate long-term control medications, teens were 20 percent more likely to show signs of inadequate asthma control than younger children. For fear of being teased or ridiculed, many teens try to keep their condition a secret, which often means not using inhalers or pills.
When left untreated in this way, the disease can worsen, leading to permanent lung damage or even a life-threatening attack. Tell your teen that medication can help him lead a normal life full of sports and socializing — if she doesn’t try to keep her asthma to itself. Instead, she should tell all of her friends and teachers about the condition so that they are supportive and less likely to panic during a seizure.
The good news is that by taking an active role in asthma management, your teen can live a full life.
The American Lung Association, (800) 586-4812 or http://www.lungusa.org, offers more tips to help you and your teen cope.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, (800) 727-8462, provides referrals to books, pamphlets, videos, and local support groups.
Researchers have shown that scientific news, stress and depression exacerbate asthma in children. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/0907…
Miller BD, Wood BL. Effect of specific emotional states on autonomic reactivity and lung function in children with asthma. : J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry; 36 (5): 669-77. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9136502
Lozano P et al. Asthma medication use and disease burden in children in a primary care community. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. 157 (1): 81–8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12517200
Wood BL, Lim J, Miller BD et al. Family and emotional climate, depression, emotional trigger of asthma, and disease severity in pediatric asthma: an examination of pathways of influence. Journal of Child Psychology; 32 (5): 542-51. http://jpepsy.oxfordjournals.org/content/32/5/542….
Originally published on Consumer.healthday.com, part of TownNews Content Exchange.