Asthma is a condition where certain stimuli in the environment narrow the airways for a period of time. During this time, the person has difficulty breathing. Asthma is recurring and can be debilitating for certain individuals. Although it can occur at any age, asthma in children is the most common and children may start seeing symptoms as early as five years old. There are many children that suffer from asthma all the way into adulthood.
Children who have asthma can still often interact with the environment unless an attack occurs. Only a small number of children are resistant to asthma prevention medications and will need special treatments on a daily basis in order to be able to play normally.
Causes Of Asthma
For reasons that are still unknown, children who have asthma are actually reacting to certain triggers in the environment. Many different things can cause an asthma attack and each child will have their own triggers. Indoor irritants like smoke, certain odors or pets can cause these attacks. Outdoor pollution, rigorous exercise, cold air, respiratory infections, pollen, dust, emotional irritants and mold can all serve as triggers for an asthma attack.
Regardless of what the trigger is, the same reaction occurs. Cells within the airway release a chemical substance which inflame the airway passage and cause it to swell. This also causes the muscles in the airways to contract.
Who Is At Risk?
At this point in time, doctors are still not sure why so many children develop asthma, but they are aware of some risk factors. It may be partly inherited. For example, if one parent has asthma, the child’s risk of developing the condition is increased by 25 percent. If both parents have it, their risk chance goes up to 50 percent. If a child’s mother smokes during her pregnancy, the child is also more likely to develop asthma.
The environment the child lives in also is a risk factor. Urban environments increase the chance of this condition developing. Genetics appears to also play a small role as well.
The classic symptoms of an asthma attack are difficulty breathing and wheezing. This is caused by the constriction of the airways. While wheezing is a common symptom of asthma, it is not always present. Mild asthma may just produce a cough. This is especially common in young children. Older children will cough during exercise or when exposed to colder air.