Picture this scenario: One day, your child is running around happily and then he started coughing and breathing heavily by bed time. He may have trouble breathing during the night or may wake up coughing periodically. After a restless night, he may be cranky in the morning. If this ever happens, it may be signs of asthma.
Dr. Wasu Kamchaisatian, a specialist in pediatric allergy and immunology advised us that asthma is a type of allergy that occurs in the lower respiratory tracts which begin from the trachea all the way to the bronchioles. Children of all ages and gender can develop asthma, which although is not a contagious disease, can be hereditary. Furthermore, people who never had asthma can develop symptoms if they are in the wrong environment.
Asthma can be brought on by changes in the environment such as climate changes. The cold temperature in an air-conditioned room does not increase the risk of asthma, but if the air filter is not regularly cleaned, there may be spores or dusts that can provoke and asthma attack. Stimulants of asthma include house dusts, cockroaches, dandruffs from dogs and cats, pollens, or fungi from around the house. Because the lower respiratory tracts in people with asthma are susceptible to contraction when stimulated, exercise no matter how much or just a bit, can cause an onset.
Other than coughing, other signs of asthma include chest pain, trouble breathing, or wheezing. To be cautious, watch for these signs in both children and adults alike. If you notice that someone is coughing all night and has other signs of allergy, it may be that he/she is suffering from acute asthma attack. An inhaler can be used to relief the symptom. However, if a child has never used an inhaler before, he/she should be taken to the hospital immediately to avoid acute asthma attack, which may lead to lack of oxygen and respiratory failure.
Epidemiological studies in Thailand since 1985 have shown that the prevalence of asthma increased from 5% to 15% in the past 10 years, especially in the Bangkok area. Asthma and respiratory infection can be quite similar in symptom, although the pathology is different. To confirm the diagnosis of asthma, if there is no family history, a lung function test may be performed to measure the lung capacity. Another good indication is the effectiveness of an inhaler.
Dr. Wasu explained that because asthma is brought on by inflammation of the lung passages, the use of steroid-containing inhalers will help widenthese passages. If they are used properly, patients can safely use them without any side-effects and they are more effective than taking leukotrienes, which is an alternative choice for patients who cannot use inhalers.
Although asthma is a chronic disease, it can be controlled if treated properly. Untreated asthma can lead to decreased lung function and chronic bronchitis. Dr. Wasu recommended that children should get flu shots to prevent asthma attack as well.
Diploma of Thai Board of Pediatrics, 1999.