Asthma is a long-lasting (chronic) lung disease. It causes coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Asthma symptoms are caused by two different problems in the airways.
If your child has asthma, symptoms often start after your child is exposed to a trigger. Asthma triggers can include:
Try to limit your child's contact with these triggers, especially in places where your child spends a lot of time, such as at home and school.
Cigarette, pipe, and cigar smoke are harmful to children and adults in general, but the smoke is a bigger problem for children with asthma. Even the smell of smoke on clothes can trigger asthma symptoms in a child with sensitive airways. Children who live in a household with a smoker are also less likely to outgrow their asthma.
Children with asthma should not spend any time in places where there is smoke. No one should smoke in the home, and no one should smoke in a car that a child with asthma rides in.
Pollens are small particles that plants such as trees, grasses, and weeds release into the air. The amount of pollen in the air outdoors varies with the season and the time of day. Pollen and outdoor mold amounts tend to be lower in the early morning and higher at midday and in the afternoon.
Pollens from grasses, weeds, and trees are lightweight and can be carried in the air for miles. These pollens land in the eyes, nose, and airways, causing allergies and asthma. Flower pollens are heavier and are carried from plant to plant by insects rather than the wind. As a result, flower pollens rarely cause allergies. Although it is hard to avoid pollens completely, some suggestions include:
Molds are found year-round throughout the house, outdoors, and in foods, but especially in areas of high moisture. Molds blow around in the air both outdoors and indoors. Bathrooms and damp basements are common areas for mold growth. Mold is also very likely to grow in swamp coolers, humidifiers, and the refrigerator drip pan and crisper. Here are some ways to decrease mold growth:
Many things are in house dust, including dirt, insect debris, dust mites, molds, animal dander, dead skin, food crumbs, and bacteria. Dust collects on every item in the home, including mattresses, couches, clothes, rugs, drapes, and stuffed animals. It is hard to avoid house dust, but the following ideas will help:
Allergens are found in animal saliva, dandruff, and urine. They cause allergic reactions in many people. Children may be more sensitive to one type of animal (such as cats) than another type. All furry animals can cause allergic reactions. Cold-blooded reptiles, such as snakes, turtles, lizards, and fish, do not cause problems.
If your child is sensitive to animals and has a pet, the best thing is to remove the pet from your home. Giving away a family pet is very hard, but if your child is very sensitive, it may be necessary. Once the pet is gone, thoroughly clean the house. It is especially important to clean stuffed furniture, wall surfaces, rugs, drapes, and heating and cooling systems.
If you keep a pet your child is sensitive to, the pet should live outside and NEVER be in the child's bedroom. Keep your child’s bedroom door closed. Keep pets out of family areas and rooms where children with asthma sleep at all times.
Cockroaches and their droppings are a major allergy trigger and worsen asthma symptoms. To get rid of cockroaches:
Different types of indoor and outdoor air pollutants can aggravate asthma. This includes ozone, dust, smoke, paint fumes, and strong perfumes or odors. Weather conditions such as cold temperature and low humidity can make asthma worse, especially on high pollution days.
Colds and flu make asthma worse and often trigger episodes of asthma. The viruses that cause respiratory illnesses are more common during the fall and winter months. Monitor asthma symptoms and track peak flows regularly. To help prevent colds and flu:
Sulfites are a food preservative found in certain foods, such as shrimp, canned tuna, dried fruit, pickles, and olives. Rarely, sulfites can cause severe asthma in some children.