Asthma - Back to School Health

Asthma affects 1 in 12 children. Asthma accounts for missed school days and can be life threatening if not controlled. Exposure to various irritants and substances that trigger allergies (allergens) can trigger signs and symptoms of asthma.

a girl using inhaler

Asthma triggers are different from person to person and can include:

  • Airborne substances, such as pollen, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander or particles of cockroach waste
  • Respiratory infections, such as the common cold
  • Physical activity (exercise-induced asthma)
  • Cold air
  • Air pollutants and irritants, such as smoke
  • Strong emotions and stress

Asthma causes bronchoconstriction or tightening of the muscles in the airways and also bronchial inflammation which causes increased mucous production and secretions that clog up the breathing tubes and make it difficult to breath.

Symptoms of asthma include:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness or congestion

Signs of an asthma emergency include:

  • Rapid worsening of shortness of breath or wheezing
  • No improvement even after using a quick-relief inhaler, such as albuterol
  • Shortness of breath with minimal physical activity

If a child is experiencing an asthma emergency, you should call 911. Asthma is managed with the use of inhalers. There are quick relief medications and controller medications. Quick relief medications, like albuterol, help to open up the muscles in the airways and acts quickly. Controller medications are anti-inflammatory medications and work to reduce the inflammation in the airways. Some children are on medications to control their asthma on a daily basis and others just need the quick relief medications intermittently. Some children may need to use an inhaler prior to exercise in order to exercise more easily. If a child has frequent need for asthma treatment, they need to be seen by a specialist. If you have any questions about asthma or its management we are here to help.

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