Asthma is a disease which is currently on the increase throughout the world, especially in children. It can be defined as a period in which the sufferer struggles to breathe – also called an asthma attack. The causes of asthma are quite varied and can be split into two groups – specific factors and non-specific factors. Almost all people who suffer from asthma attacks are born with the disease although cooking gases, draughty houses and a mother who smoked during pregnancy have all been associated with an increase in the disease.
Specific Factors that Cause Asthma Attacks
The specific factors that are linked to the causes of asthma include allergens or irritants such as pollen, animal fur, dust, food and mould. Certain drugs have also be linked to asthma attacks including aspirin as have chemical fumes. Other asthma causes that fit into this category include bacteria or a virus.
Non Specific Asthma Causes
In the other group of asthma attack causes are non-specific factors. These are often outside irritants such as smoke, pollution and scents. The cold weather can also be included into this group as can any form of exertion – one of the most common causes of asthma attacks in children.
Symptoms of Asthma Attacks
When a person is suffering from an attack, there are asthma attack symptoms that can be looked out for. These include:
• Severe exhaustion that makes speech impossible
• Restlessness and confusion
• The sufferer gasping for breath
• The skin colour of the sufferer changing to blue
Before an attack, the sufferer may also feel some of the other asthma symptoms including but not limited to:
• A shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing normally
• Coughing which results in bring up mucus (usually at night)
• Wheezing after exertion
Asthma and Children
An asthma diagnosis is usually performed on children as soon as there is a possibility that they may suffer from the disease. Although people of any age can get asthma, over 50% of children are diagnosed with the disease, with most of these being boys under the age of ten. Half of the children who do suffer from asthma will “grow out of it” but this doesn’t mean that the asthma symptoms are not as severe. In addition to the symptoms above children may also experience the following:
• Recurrent colds which take a while to recover from
• A general feeling of being unwell
• Being inactive or tired – no longer wanting to join in with childhood games which they enjoyed before
• Wheezing upon breathing out
If you feel like your child may be suffering from asthma it is important to take them to see a doctor. Quite often a child who suffers from asthma will be given ventolin asthma inhalers to carry round with them so if they feel like an asthma attack is approaching they can use this to help relax their airways. The doctor will also recommend you a series of other asthma attack preventers and relievers. The parents of a child who has been diagnosed with asthma should inform the child’s school and anyone else who is a caregiver to the child.
Although there is no cure for asthma the causes of asthma attacks can be controlled so that the symptoms are not as troublesome or do not happen as often. Asthma is not a fatal disease unless it is treated incorrectly or not treated soon enough.