A diagnosis of asthma doesn’t have to mean the end of fun as your child knows it. Getting a feel for what’s causing the flare-ups and learning how to avoid them may take some time, but during each step you’ll learn something that helps your child.
Relax, do your research, and realize that an asthma diagnosis isn’t the end of the world.
Keep an Asthma Diary
Image via Flickr by pennuja
Since each child is unique, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to controlling asthma. This frustrates some parents, who simply want to fix the problem. But you can begin to manage symptoms when you identify all the triggers. Start a diary and track the bad days and the good days. Soon, you’ll have a picture of what things to avoid and what’s okay to allow.
Important things to log into the diary include:
• What they ate
• Where they slept
• What they played with
• How much time they spent outdoors
• Whether their symptoms were mild, moderate, or severe
Keeping a diary becomes challenging when the child is in daycare or visits relatives or friends. Explain the importance of the diary to the people taking care of them, and they’ll usually help you fill in the blanks when you can’t be around.
Get Your Child Allergy Tested
Allergies are sometimes – not always – asthma triggers. Your pediatrician can perform allergy tests to check if allergens are a concern for your child. If so, you’ll need to keep them away from mold, dust mites, roaches, pollen, pet dander, feathers, and other triggers. Common irritants can also be triggers, such as:
• Aerosol sprays
• Air pollution
Between your diary and the doctor’s tests, you can make changes to your child’s routine to limit or eliminate these triggers, such as playing indoors on high pollen days and commuting during non-peak hours when air pollution is at its highest levels. Many doctors manage children’s asthma with allergy and other medications.
Dust, pet dander, mold, and other triggers can be eliminated by thorough and regular cleaning. This includes regularly washing bed linens, window dressings, upholstery, rugs, and other areas usually cleaned with less frequency. A housekeeper can ease some of the work for mom. Some parents find air purifiers also help, as can switching to all-natural cleaning products.
If your child has to give up a beloved pet due to asthma, try to replace it with something they can enjoy. Some kids who can’t tolerate dogs or cats can still enjoy a bunny rabbit, hamster, or an aquarium. Be sure they understand that it’s not their fault the pet has to go. Explain how happy the pet will be in a new home. Also, don’t let siblings give them a guilt trip. Try to keep the experience as positive as possible.
Avoid Extreme Temperatures
On the hottest and coldest days of the year, it’s best to plan for indoor activities. Extreme temperatures can trigger asthma attacks. Plan play dates or meet friends at the local indoor gym. Movie theaters, the mall, science centers, and museums are excellent alternatives when the playground or zoo is too risky. As the weather changes, allow them outdoors for limited periods of time and monitor their symptoms. Allow outdoor play as much as possible without causing a flare-up.
Watch Your Child’s Exercise Habits
Don’t automatically demand that your child quit soccer, skip baseball practice, or miss try-outs for the volleyball team. Instead, watch and see how your child responds to exercise, and allow less strenuous activities if the intense ones trigger attacks.
For example, if track is impossible ask if they’d enjoy joining the golf team. Regular exercise is healthy, and the consequences of an inactive lifestyle are just as serious as an occasional mild asthma attack. Encourage exercise with family walks after dinner, easy-going games of toss in the backyard, and other non-strenous activities they can enjoy with others.
Let Them Be Kids
When you’re keeping a diary, regularly going to the doctor, trying to keep the house spotless, and watching their outdoor activities, it’s easy to become over protective. Many children outgrow their asthma completely, and many more are able to control attacks by making smart decisions. Childhood comes only once, and with proper management, there’s no reason your child can’t enjoy birthday parties, sleepovers, play dates, sports, and all the other joys of being a kid.
Even though we don’t have a cure for asthma yet, these young patients can have a fun, fulfilling life by taking a few simple precautions. You may discover there are very few triggers for your child’s attacks, and that they can live a completely normal life.
Christy Wilson graduated from Samford University with a BA in journalism and spent several years writing and editing in the newspaper business. She then discovered online writing and never looked back. Christy now works full-time from her lakeside home in Pell City, Alabama with her two daughters and the world’s most spoiled Siberian husky.
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