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Asthma Answers

July 12, 1999|BARBARA J. CHUCK

Your child has been diagnosed as having asthma. Now what? Knowing the signs of an attack is the key to controlling little Susie or Devon's asthma. About 14 million to 15 million Americans have the chronic respiratory disorder, and about one-third of them are children.

Normally, the airways are open. But in people with asthma, exposure to an allergen or something in the environment can lead to inflammation, increased mucus production and shortness of breath.

Signs of asthma include wheezing, coughing, a tight chest, sneezing, sore throat, headache and fatigue. Of course, talking with your child's doctor and having a treatment plan in place is the most effective way to control this condition. Such a plan may include oral or inhaled medications and using a peak flow meter, a device that measures how much air your child breathes out. Follow your doctor's recommendation on how often you should check your child's breathing.

Asthma triggers are different for different people, and they include:

* Pet dander.

* Cockroach droppings.

* Household dust or mold.

* Cold weather.

* Household cleaners or paints and other chemicals.

* Perfume.

Knowing what can set off asthma attacks in your child can help you prevent them and control the disorder. Here are some tips:

* Bathe pets regularly, perhaps weekly. Keep them out of your child's room.

* Don't allow smoking in your home or car; keep your child out of areas where smoking is allowed.

* Favor throw rugs over carpets. The rugs, of course, are easier to wash regularly.

* Clean damp areas, such as bathrooms, often.

* Use air conditioning when you can, as it helps to remove pollen from the air.

This is by no means a complete list of recommendations on ways to help your child. Consult your child's doctor for other treatments.

Sources: StayWell Co., Johns Hopkins Family Health Book

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