Asthma usually appears during childhood, specifically in children up to 5 years old. Some will live with asthma for the rest of their lives, while others will outgrow it. Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in children.
Familiprix, in collaboration with Vie de Parents, wants to inform and answer parents' questions about asthma in children to improve the lives of those who suffer from it.
The definition of asthma
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease. When a child is exposed to certain factors, inflammation is triggered, causing airway obstruction and difficulty breathing.
The first symptoms
Every child is different and does not necessarily have the same symptoms, at the same intensity, when it comes to asthma. Generally speaking, the main symptoms (french only) are coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, heavy secretions and chest tightness.
It is the main symptom, and in some situations, the only sign present. It can occur during the day, at night, during physical activity or when exposed to cold air.
Shortness of breath
It is often present and leads to a decreased appetite and a reduction in regular activities.
It refers to the high-pitched sound heard when a child exhales. This symptom is sometimes absent during an asthma attack.
The abundant secretions
They are due to the inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which then produce mucus.
Secretions from the bronchi cause chest tightness. These secretions obstruct the airways, which become narrower and therefore cause breathing difficulties.
Types of asthma
There are two known types of asthma: episodic and persistent.
It affects children between the ages of 1 and 5. This type of asthma appears for a few days, resolves with treatment, and reappears with another airway infection. Episodic asthma usually resolves by school age.
Regular symptoms characterize persistent asthma. It can occur in early childhood but often begins at school age. Persistent asthma can last a lifetime.
The benefits of physical activity for children
Asthma should not prevent your child from being active or playing sports. If it does, then the treatment is not adequate. There are many benefits to exercise for children with asthma (French only). Among other things, it allows them to:
- Better endurance
- A decrease in asthma attacks
- A surpassing of personal limits
- Improved self-esteem
- Reintegration into group activities
- An improved social life
- Enhanced quality of life
Factors to watch out for during physical exertion
Although children with asthma should not be limited in their physical activities, certain precautions should be taken to prevent attacks. For example:
- Limit exercise when your child is sick. The cold virus, for example, already affects the lungs so physical exertion could trigger an attack.
- Limit your child's outdoor physical activities in cold weather. The combination of cold and exercise can be irritating to the airways. In such situations, it is best to do activities indoors.
- Make sure your child warms up before physical exertion and that the intensity is gradual to allow for proper airway clearance.
- Make sure your child's chosen sport is appropriate and does not trigger seizures. Sports that require constant running, such as running or soccer, may not be suitable, while sports such as baseball or volleyball may be more appropriate.
- Make sure your child brings all of their medications to a sporting event, recognizes their symptoms, and takes their medication correctly. Also, inform teachers, caregivers or anyone else your child comes into contact with about their asthma.
There are treatments available to control asthma in children. There is a medication to be taken daily, which prevents asthma, and another medication that provides relief, i.e. when needed or in an emergency.
A detailed plan for your child's condition is usually developed with the treating physician. It contains the following information:
- Symptoms to watch out for
- Ways to reduce the risk of seizures
- Medication to be taken
- Signs of an urgent crisis
In most cases, childhood asthma is effectively controlled. With proper medical care and treatment, children with asthma can enjoy active lives.
Familiprix branches, in conjunction with other health care facilities, act as an asthma education center. A professional team is available to answer your questions and give you the information you need to manage the disease better.
Some branches offer online appointment scheduling, while others operate without an appointment. You will find all the information you need through our reservation system.