Asthma – What-s It All About?

InhaleMost parents have heard of the term -asthma’ but how many know what it is and how asthma will affect their child’s life? Having your child diagnosed with asthma is both confusing and frightening and although doctors try their best to explain the reasons for, the possible causes and symptoms of the respiratory disease – parents often find it too much to take in and are overwhelmed by the medical terms.


What is asthma?

With asthma the child’s bronchial tubes will be inflamed and the muscles which surround the tubes will tighten; coupled with the production of mucus will cause the airways to narrow and this is what causes the child to have difficulty breathing. The definition of asthma is a chronic lung condition which results in breathing difficulties. If asthma is not properly controlled, the child will require frequent hospitalizations and if left untreated, this condition can be fatal. Parents should not use any natural remedies or cures without consulting a medical doctor (or trained professional) as asthma is a life-threatening condition and is very serious, and as such demands immediate medical intervention.


What causes asthma and can it be avoided?

Asthma has been linked to allergies and asthma may also be hereditary, which means that if your child has been diagnosed with asthma, the chances are fairly high that there is a family history of the disease. A child who suffers from repeated upper respiratory infections are considered to be high-risk – and if the child is an allergy sufferer – their risk increases. Second-hand smoke has also proven to put kids at a higher risk of developing asthma (or other respiratory problems). Children who are born with a low birth weight are also more susceptible to asthma and strangely enough, more boys are diagnosed with asthma than girls. In terms of avoiding or preventing asthma, parents must avoid smoking around their children (they can do this by creating a designated outside smoking area). A healthy diet (rich in fruits, and natural foods) will help kids to build up their immune system and this will help them fight the respiratory and other infections. Kids need to receive adequate exposure to clean fresh air and they should enjoy moderate exercise (swimming, walking, etc).


The common signs of asthma

The common warning signs of asthma include:

  • The child begins to wheeze and suffers a shortness of breath,
  • Persistent coughing which leads to difficulty sleeping (compounded by the shortness of breath, and wheezing),
  • Chest pains or the child complains of a tightness in the chest,
  • The child struggles to catch their breath after exercise or any activity where they exert themselves,
  • Reoccurring chest or respiratory infections and the need to use bronchodilators to open the chest and to relax the muscles.


Asthma on the increase

In the last twenty years, more and more children are being diagnosed with asthma and the medical world is putting out several reasons for the increase. A number of experts are putting the blame on pollution – let’s face it, those in the city are exposed to huge volumes of air pollution (from cars and factories, etc.) on a daily basis. Pollutants, like air pollution, pollen, dust, second-hand smoke are asthma triggers. There are other experts who believe that since less moms are breastfeeding (due to the fact that they need to return to work), children are not receiving the substances necessary to build up their immune system, and as a result more children are developing asthma.


Living with asthma

Once a diagnosis has been made, the doctor will work out a specialized care plan. There is not a -one size fits all plan’ and medication should not be shared (at all). A doctor will also need to explain to parents what to do in the event of an asthmatic attack. The medication that is prescribed will allow the child to live a happy and healthy life if asthma is kept under control. Regular follow up visits will need to be scheduled with the doctor, and the plan will need to be assessed for effectiveness. Medical aid patients are advised to contact their medical aid company immediately, as the medication is costly and it is part of chronic medication (which means it will be covered by the medical aid).

Since asthma is triggered by pollutants, such as smoke, etc. it is important that exposure to these triggers is limited – smoking in a house with an asthmatic should not be done. There are, however, several other triggers, including mold. An allergy test (known as a sweat test) can be conducted on the child that will help parents to figure out what the allergic triggers may be, such as dust, mold, pet hair, etc.


Is there is a natural treatment for asthma?

A lot of parents are realizing the benefits of home or natural remedies for aliments and conditions. Since asthma is life-threatening and a serious ailment, before opting to go the natural route, it is best that treatments are discussed with medical doctors, as well as homeopaths. A homeopath will make use of all natural cures and remedies and many modern doctors are now willing to explore the advantages of the homeopathic treatments.

The home remedies for asthma include increasing the child’s intake of vitamin B6 and B12, these two powerful vitamins will help to decrease the inflation of the lungs. Vitamin C is also seen as a means to fight asthma, as this vitamin is essential to fighting infections and increase the amount of oxygen that enters the lungs.

Coffee as well as cola softdrinks will assist in dilating the bronchial airways, which means that breathing will become easier.

There are also a number of herbs, like garlic, evening primrose, eucalyptus, lavender and nettle that are used to treat the symptoms of asthma. These natural ingredients are used as the base for natural treatments manufactured to treat and relieve symptoms. It is however, critically important for parents to consult a medical doctor before stopping prescribed medication and switching to natural cures.


 – Kathy Baron


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