Kids with asthma are often confused and unable to communicate what is happening to them. They wonder why they aren’t breathing right and why they can’t do what they normally do. Sometimes it is hard for a parent to identify asthma symptoms when they are happening to their child.
What Does Asthma Feel Like to a Child?
In today’s day and age, asthma is all over the place. Asthma is so common that I would venture that we all know at least one person who suffers from this chronic condition. Maybe a family member, a friend, a neighbor’s child… what we know is that at least 20 million Americans experience asthma and the numbers are rising each year.
Wheezing, chest tightness, and being short of breath are the most common symptoms of asthma and can happen day or night. Adults with asthma are more likely to know what their body feels like during symptoms. Kids, on the other hand, are often confused and unable to communicate what is happening to them. They wonder why they aren’t breathing right and why they can’t do what they normally do. Sometimes it is hard for a parent to identify asthma symptoms when they are happening to their child. Talk about a dis-empowering situation!
Some lesser known symptoms for childhood asthmatics include:
- Coughing spells during play, at night, or even after laughing
- Rapid or labored breathing/ Chest retractions while breathing
- Less energy while playing/ Not able to keep up with their friends during play
- Feeling weak or tired
- Tight chest and neck muscles
Why I Specialize in Treating Asthma as a Naturopathic Doctor
I had asthma when I was a child. Whenever I played soccer or basketball as a kid, my parents always knew I was struggling when my shoulders were hunched up toward my ears. I was not conscious of this because I just wanted to get more air in and keep playing.
So how does this feel? The best way to feel what an asthmatic feels is to breathe in and out of a coffee straw. Purse your lips around the straw, pinch your nose, and take a few moments to try and draw air in and out only through the straw. You will find it’s not easy!
Some children with asthma feel a level of discomfort fairly regularly. Some only experience symptoms during attacks. Sometimes it is only during certain seasons. Because of all the variables, it is important to have your child examined by a medical professional. Identification of asthma is often difficult; finding solutions for your child is even more important.
Understanding Sensitivity and Hyper-Reactivity
I’ve stated in other articles that asthmatics have two features in common: a sensitive airway tract and hyper-reactivity to environmental triggers. When I state that asthmatics have a “sensitive airway tract”, I am referring to an underlying susceptibility within the respiratory system. Everyone is subjected to air pollution, common allergens, and changes in temperature, but not everyone responds with constricted airways.
Within the airway tract of a child with asthma, immune system cells release inflammation producing chemicals. Histamine is the inflammatory chemical we are most familiar with, but several others are implicated as well. Leukotrienes are even more potent inflammatory mediators. When these inflammatory molecules are within the respiratory passages, an individual will have asthmatic symptoms.
Natural Health Solutions to Prevent Asthma Attacks
The bottom line is that an asthmatic produces these chemicals once exposed to triggers within the environment. Therefore, I would recommend several steps to prevent this event from occurring.
- Purchase a high quality HEPA air filter and run the machine in the child’s bedroom at night. Asthma symptoms are often worse at night, and a HEPA filter reduces the allergens in the air.
- Cover your children’s pillow with allergen encasements. Mattress encasements are also available. High quality encasements are vital for creating a barrier between the sleeper and dust mites, the most common allergen.
- Launder bed sheets once weekly in hot water.
- Keep pets out of the bedroom. I know, this is not a popular suggestion… but it can be an extremely important one!
- Have your home checked for water damage. Whether in the floors, walls, basement or crawl space, the presence of water attracts mold and other common triggers of asthma.
- See your local naturopathic doctor to incorporate holistic health recommendations.
As always follow the advice of your medical doctor or other healthcare professional; asthma can be a very severe condition and medicine is often recommended to ensure safety. Adding in these tips will help your child to breathe free more naturally.