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Treating Asthma in Children

Asthma is a common condition caused by narrowing of the small air passages (breathing tubes/bronchi) in the lungs. The narrowing happens because the air passages become swollen and inflamed. This makes it harder for air to get through and causes wheezing, coughing and problems with breathing.  The cause is not known but it will often run in families, can be related to other conditions such as eczema, hayfever and allergies.

About one in four children will have wheezing sometime during childhood. With the right medicine and treatment, nearly all children with asthma will be able to join in sport and lead active lives.asthma

Asthma and allergies are closely linked. Most people with asthma have allergic asthma.

Allergy testing is not mandatory as part of the diagnostic process for patients with suspected asthma, but may be indicated when identifying allergens will guide management or when other clinically significant allergies are suspected (e.g. food allergies). It may also be useful when considering the prognosis for wheezing infants. It can be difficult to diagnose asthma with certainty in children aged 0–5 years.

Recent media coverage on the use of the asthma medication, Montelukast (available as brand name ‘Singular’) is a highly effective medication, has an excellent safety record and usually is a very safe preventer medication for children with asthma. Although in 2015, The Therapeutic Drugs Administration said it has also been linked to suicidal thoughts or depression among some users and therefore needed close monitoring. Other neuropsychiatric reactions reported to The Therapeutic Drugs Administration included nightmares, altered mood and insomnia and in many cases, patients had experienced multiple neuropsychiatric reactions. Parents are calling for new warning labels on a common asthma tablet. Between January 2000 and March 2016, the Therapeutic Goods Administration received almost 90 reports of psychiatric events in children and adolescents treated with the medication.  The Asthma Council says that patients should not stop taking their medication without consulting their doctor.

What should you do if your child has an asthma attack? 

  1. Sit your child down and remain calm.
  2. Immediately shake a blue reliever puffer and give four separate puffs through a spacer. Give one puff at a time and ask your child to take four breaths from the spacer after each puff.
  3. Wait four minutes. If there is no improvement in your child’s asthma repeat step 2.
  4. If still no improvement after four minutes, call an ambulance immediately. State that your child is having an asthma attack. Continuously repeat steps 2 and 3 while waiting for the ambulance.

Whilst it is stressful watching your children having an asthma attack, it is important that you remain calm to ensure the patient is also calm.

Ensure people caring for your child know your child has asthma and understand what to do during an asthma attack – whether it is other family members, day care, school or sporting teacher. Asthma affects each child differently and asthma is unpredictable.

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