When a child develops signs of breathing disorders, wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath, a survey is carried out and the reasons for this condition are ascertained. If bronchial asthma is detected, it requires constant monitoring and treatment to suppress inflammation. If this is not done, the condition may progressively worsen, the attacks will be more and more severe. But taking medicines in childhood is associated with a number of problems and complications. Therefore, it is important for parents to know what is needed in order to arrange proper treatment.
Do medications give side effects?
The most common side effects for inhaled steroid drugs are thrush (a yeast infection of the mouth or throat, which causes a change in the color of the tongue, the formation of white patina), coughing and hoarseness. After applying the medication child must rinse your mouth (and spit out water) and use a metered-dose inhaler with a gasket to reduce the risk of thrush. When a dose is prescribed drugs that exceed the average age indicated on the package insert, or even a normal dose, the child may experience some systemic side effects. These may include reddening of the cheeks, irritability and trouble sleeping. Prolonged use of higher doses of steroids can affect the growth of the child. This is the most important side effect in children, and the physician should closely monitor the intake of steroids to eliminate this side effect. It must be borne in mind, however, that inhaled steroids have much less potential side effects than steroid tablets or syrups.
The role of steroids in suppressing inflammation
Steroid tablets and syrups are very effective in reducing inflammation, swelling of mucous membranes and the formation of mucus in the airways. They also help other fast-acting drugs work better and faster. They are often necessary for eliminating inflammation, treating severe episodes or prolonged exacerbations of bronchial asthma. Many children with asthma periodically need short-term steroid tablets or syrups to suppress inflammation, reduce the severity of acute attacks, and prevent serious complications or hospitalization. An exacerbation can last from two to seven days and does not necessarily require a gradually decreasing dose (this is usually required after the child has taken steroids for more than seven days).
Side effects of steroid therapy in a child
As long as active inflammation is suppressed by taking these drugs, the child may experience several mild side effects, such as increased appetite, fluid retention, moodiness, sleep disturbances, and upset stomach. These side effects are temporary, and usually disappear after stopping the medication.
But frequent and long-term use of oral steroids can dramatically slow the growth of the child. Frequent use of steroids usually means that bronchial asthma the child is out of control, and requires much more attention to determine the cause of provocation attacks and eliminate it. Sometimes a child needs extra calcium and vitamin D due to prolonged steroid therapy.
Breathing in children: defining indicators
In order to determine the respiratory impairment provoked in asthma, it is necessary to carry out functional tests and the use of certain devices. The peak flow meter (picfluometer) is a small, easy-to-use device that measures peak expiratory flow, an indicator of how quickly your child can exhale air after a full breath. This shows how impaired breathing is due to spasm and inflammation of the bronchi. Measurement data is very useful for parents and treating physicians, they allow to evaluate the breath in the period of exacerbation and remission.
Sometimes peak flow values will decrease in a few hours or even days before other symptoms of an asthma attack become apparent. When parents track peak expiratory flow on a daily (or regular) basis, they can detect this decrease and take action to prevent an asthma attack. Measurement data, along with controlling asthma symptoms, are often used to make decisions about the tactics of treating asthma.
It will be much easier to develop an asthma treatment plan when they regularly take measurements. Also, it is important to talk with your doctor about the actions that should be taken when significant respiratory disturbances are detected according to the measurement data.
A child who needs to take asthma medication daily or almost daily is a candidate for the use of a peak flow meter. Children over 5 years old can usually fully use the device.
Can a child outgrow bronchial asthma?
One of the most frequently asked questions is whether bronchial asthma can disappear as the child gets older. This is not an easy question to answer specifically for an individual child. Many children really outgrow bronchial asthma. Usually these are children who develop bronchial asthma as a result of an infection that does not have an allergy, and there is no one with allergic manifestations or asthma from next of kin. Symptoms in these children usually disappear before they turn 6 years old.
There are other children who come from families where many family members are allergic, and, as a rule, parents see that the severe symptoms disappear as children go through puberty, but then the manifestations return later, in adult life. There are no reliable diagnostic tests that could predict which children will outgrow bronchial asthma and which will have symptoms as they grow older.
Therefore, it is important to have constant treatment, compliance with all recommendations of the attending physician, in order to prevent asthma from going into a severe, continually relapsing form, which in rare cases can disappear as children grow older.