What's New about Asthma?
Teri LaBarbera understood the severity of Brian’s condition on a cold day this past February, when Brian woke up one morning complaining that he wasn’t hungry and had a sore throat. “Then he was telling me he couldn’t breathe all the way,” remembers Teri. “We tried to give him the inhaler that the doctors gave us in December, but once the lungs are that constricted, it won’t help. We still tried to help him, but later that night, we realized how bad it was—the bed was moving when he was trying to breathe.”
Prevention is Key
Asthmatics are very sensitive to environmental stimulants, or triggers, that can set off symptoms leading to an attack. Brian was allergic to dust mites and mold, but other triggers can include (but aren’t limited to) pollen, animal dander, cigarette smoke, aerosol spray, strong odors, exercise, upper respiratory infections, and weather.
Those triggers can develop into an asthma attack. Early warning signs of asthma include feeling tired, an itchy throat, runny nose, constriction in the chest, headache, and a change in mucus.
A child experiencing an asthma attack may wheeze, cough, have shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. If not treated, a severe asthma attack will include coughing and wheezing, as well as difficulty in talking, nasal flaring, and cyanosis (a bluish, gray tone in the skin, starting at the mouth).
To treat asthma, it’s important to find the cause of the lung inflammation, suggests Dr. Sharma. “There might be indoor allergens, year-round, that the patient is exposed to. The first step is to reduce the environmental controls (those elements that can trigger an attack) and the second step is to stay away from things that you are allergic to, commonsense triggers, such as second-hand smoke and fragrances.”
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