Allergies are a common cause for asthma in children, and attacks can be scary for both parents and kids alike. If your child suffers from allergic asthma, here are four great tips for keeping symptoms under control and reducing the severity of attacks all year long.
Look into allergy shots. As long as your child is at least five years of age, allergy shots may be an option. They are effective against allergies to dust mites, pet dander, mold, certain types of pollen, and other common triggers for allergic asthma.
Obviously, the first step is getting your child tested, after which the allergist will come up with a schedule for receiving treatment. In the beginning, your child may be getting several shots per week at a very small dose. Gradually, the dose of the allergen will be increased while the frequency of the shots is decreased. Over time, your child may only need to receive an allergy shot once a month for routine maintenance.
Because this buildup phase is so critical to getting your child's allergic asthma under control, it's very important to maintain the schedule advised by the doctor. Otherwise, you may find yourself starting over from scratch.
A new treatment is making waves, and if shots are not an option, or if visiting the doctor several times a week is a hardship, you may want to discuss with the allergist the possibility of sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). With this method, a tablet is placed under the tongue to dissolve for several minutes before swallowing. It's a fairly new treatment option, and it does not require treatment at a clinic like allergy shots do. It's currently effective against common triggers like dust mites, tree pollen, cat dander, and ragweed. But it also might help children who suffer from eczema.
Avoid food triggers. While not everything is fully understood regarding food allergies and their relationship to asthma, a recent study of inner-city children did reveal a correlation. Twenty-four percent of the children studied with asthma had some sort of food allergy. Additionally, those with food allergies in general reported a higher incidence of asthma symptoms than those without allergies, reporting more frequent use of medications used to control their asthma.
Now, if your child is getting allergy shots, you should know that while they are great at building up immunity against airborne allergies, they do not protect against food allergies. If you know or even suspect that your child has food allergies, you'll need to be aggressive at ensuring they aren't exposed to those foods. Make sure teachers and other parents know what to avoid feeding your child when you aren't around. And most importantly, your child should know what not to eat when they're at school or at a friend's house.
Make sure they get regular exercise. Exercise and intense play can trigger an asthma attack in some children, making sports and outdoor play an avoided activity. But regular exercise can actually help. In fact, multiple studies have shown that exercise improves the overall fitness of the heart and lungs, thereby reducing asthma symptoms and improving breathing.
Once your child's asthma is under control (which equates to no more than two days of symptoms per week), ease them into an exercise regimen with the guidance of their physician. Start slow, and build up to a level of activity your child is comfortable with, having them exercise at least 4-5 days per week.
Talk to your child about proper breathing while getting in shape. When possible, they should breathe through their nose to warm, filter, and then moisten the air before it hits their lungs. Ideally, they should get out of breath only minimally while exercising, making carrying on a conversation slightly difficult.
Maintain proper air in your home. Humidity alone does not cause asthma, but it can contribute to its symptoms. Research has shown that areas in the U.S with humidity levels lower than 50% have fewer incidences of asthma. So how does this relate to your home?
High humidity levels inside the home are more likely to encourage mold and mildew growth as well as harbor dust mites, which are common triggers for allergic asthma. Conversely, humidity levels that fall below 15% (more common in the winter) make the lungs too dry and can trigger coughing.
To control symptoms, monitor the humidity levels in your home, aiming for 35-50%. Use air conditioning in the summer to reduce humidity and pollen levels, and set up dehumidifiers and/or humidifiers when warranted.
For more tips to help your child, contact a local asthma specialist like Diane L. Ozog, MD, SC.Share