The harmattan wind is blowing cold air. The weather is dry, dusty and hazy. Here are 18 useful tips to prevent your child from having asthma attacks in the harmamattan season.
1. Keep your child warm; cold is one of the triggers of asthma. Keep your child warm with extra clothing and sweaters. Don’t allow them to play with cold water or wet themselves. A hot tea definitely comes in handy in this period.
2. No play on dusty fields: the weather is very dusty now, don’t allow your child to play where dust will be raised.
3. Avoid areas where people smoke or burn bushes
4. Use tiles in the rooms not carpets and rugs that harbour dust. If you have rugs clean it with a vacuum cleaner at least twice a week.
5. Wet floors before sweeping to prevent rising dust
6. Provide emotional support: emotional stress is one of the triggers of asthma, keep your child happy and sweet as much as you can
7. Avoid cleaning chemicals, soaps and perfumes with very strong odour that can trigger asthma
8. On very hot or very cold days, let your child play and exercise indoor to prevent exercise induced asthma
9. If your child is asthmatic visit the school to make sure he/she sits far away from the chalk board. Chalk dust can also trigger asthma
10. Use allergy proof covers on pillows and beddings. Be sure to wash beddings in hot water above 130 degrees Fahrenheit to remove dust mites. Use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture and moulds
11. Let the people in your child’s life know about the condition .Educate siblings, teachers and friends about triggers, symptoms and first aid.
12. Keep asthma medications and inhalers in your child’s school bag and let the school know about it.
13. There’s nothing worse than an empty inhaler canister during asthma attack, make sure you have extra asthma inhalers at home and in school.
14. If your child is old enough, ensure he/she knows how to correctly use the asthma inhaler
15. Know the location of the nearest hospitals to your child’s school, your home and work place.
16. Educate your child about the condition. Let them know the triggers, symptoms and what to do if there’s an asthma attack.
17. Provide support: support the child emotionally by letting them know asthma does not prevent anybody from living a normal life, all that is needed is to take the necessary precautions.
18. As a preventive measure let the child take one to two puffs of the inhaler when going to a place or involved in an activity that will expose him/her to asthma triggers
Frequently asked questions about asthma
What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disease characterized by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing, which vary in severity and frequency from person to person. During an asthma attack, the lining of the bronchial tubes swells, causing the airways to narrow and reducing the flow of air into and out of the lungs.
Can asthma be cured?
There is no cure for asthma, however it can be controlled and prevented through medications and precautions. Asthma medications are used to prevent and treat asthma symptoms. Preventive measures involve avoiding triggers that cause asthma
Does asthma ever go away?
Sometimes it does but not always. Some children stop having asthma symptoms as they become older and are better able to avoid triggers. In most cases, asthma is a chronic disease people have to learn to live with
Is asthma a psychological or emotional problem?
No it not. Asthma is a physiologic disease, however stress, anxiety and strong emotions can be a trigger in some people
How is asthma diagnosed?
Asthma is diagnosed by trained medical doctors.
History and physical examination guides the diagnosis
Some tests like chest x-rays, blood and skin tests for allergy, spirometry (which measures the amount of air taken into and expelled from the lungs) , Peak flow monitoring (measures the amount of air one is able to expel from the lungs) are also used
What are the symptoms?
Asthma is characterized by recurrent episodes of:
· Chest tightness or feeling of suffocation
· Difficulty in breathing
What causes these symptoms?
When exposed to triggers or allergens like dust, mites, pollen, fumes, smoke, strong odours, cold, emotional stress, etc, in asthmatic people, the small airways in the lungs become swollen and narrow , the membrane surrounding the airways also secrete mucus which further worsens the airway narrowing causing difficulty in breathing
Should people with asthma exercise?
Yes they can exercise and live normal lives. It is important to take advice from a doctor on what to do in terms of precautions. It may be necessary to take a few puffs of the asthma inhaler before beginning exercise
Should physical activity be limited because of asthma?
You don’t have to limit yourself in any way. All you need do is avoid triggers and comply with medication
Do children usually outgrow asthma?
About half of children that develop asthma between age 2 to 10 eventually outgrow it.in some children it recurs in the third to fourth decade of life, and it some others, the asthma persists till adulthood without remission at any point