Asthma is the most common chronic disease in childhood (with the exception of child obesity), affecting around 1 in 10 kids. It can also be quite serious, leading to hospitalization and even death.
What is asthma?
Asthma is an inflammatory disease that causes the tiny airways in the lungs to restrict, leading to wheezing, coughing, or difficulty breathing. This inflammation can be triggered by exercise, allergens, stress, cold air, or airborne pollution throughout the environment.
Asthma is commonly intertwined with allergies, since the conditions share a similar cause. (Both are autoimmune disorders and involve an overreaction by a child’s immune system to otherwise harmless things.) Seventy-percent of people with asthma also have allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
How do children get asthma?
Genially asthma is caused by a combination of both genes and environment. Some children have a genetic predisposition for autoimmune disorders. That said, these disorders have been skyrocketing in number in recent decades, and have well-established environmental causes.
Overly hygienic environments can trigger allergies and asthma, since it leaves a child’s immune system with less to do, prompting it to overreact to otherwise harmless things. Kids who live on farms or who play outside in the dirt a lot or who interact with a lot of other children have lower rates of asthma for this reason. Anything that makes a child’s immune system hyperactive can trigger the onset of asthma.
Air pollution has been well established to cause the disease, especially in children. Chemical exposures can also trigger the onset of asthma. Obesity and inactivity are another factor that not only worsen asthma symptoms but can also trigger asthma in the first place.
Do children outgrow asthma?
Yes. Many kids (though not all) will outgrow their asthma symptoms as they age and their immune system matures. There are also things parents and their children can do to reduce symptoms and help them outgrow the condition.
If your child is diagnosed with asthma
“A diagnosis doesn’t have to be a daily challenge for your child,” says Claire McCarthy. In the 20 years I’ve been a pediatrician, we’ve come a long way in understanding and treating asthma. Working with their doctor, parents can do a lot to help their children.” (Mccarthy, 2013)
More information on asthma in children
The following information will help parents better manage their child’s condition: