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How can I tell if my child has asthma?

Risk Factors for developing childhood asthma:

  • Presence of allergies
  • Family history of asthma and/or allergies
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Low birth weight
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke before and/or after birth
  • Being male
  • Being black
  • Being raised in a low income environment

 

Signs and Symptoms to look for include:

  • Frequent coughing spells. It is important to know that coughing may be the only symptom
  • Less energy during the day
  • Rapid breathing
  • Complaint of chest tightness or chest "hurting"
  • Whistling sound (wheezing) when breathing in or out
  • Shortness of breath, loss of breath
  • Tightened neck and chest muscles
  • Feelings of weakness or tiredness

 

What to do when your child has asthma

Is there anything I can do to help my child avoid asthma attacks?

You can help your child avoid asthma attacks by keeping him or her away from triggers (also called allergens) that can start an asthma attack. Here are examples of triggers:

 

  • Inside the house, dust mites and mold are the biggest allergen problems
  • Some children are allergic to animal dander (dry skin, feathers and fur bits)
  • Cigarette smoke can also cause asthma attacks
  • Pollen is the biggest problem outdoors
  • Blowout as hard and fast as possible

 

How can I keep my child away from these asthma triggers?

You can reduce the asthma triggers in your home by following these steps:

 

  1. Cover your child's mattress, pillows. and box spring with an airtight vinyl or nylon case that zips shut.
  2. Remove carpets from your home, and use a damp mop to clean linoleum or wood floors. You may use throw rugs that can be machine washed.
  3. Instead of drapes and cloth-covered furniture, use washable curtains or vinyl shades and furniture you can wipe with a damp cloth, especially in your child's bedroom.
  4. Wash sheets, blankets and pillows, throw rugs and stuffed animals often, using hot water to kill dust mites.
  5. Use pillows or comforters filled with polyester instead of feathers.
  6. Use cotton or acrylic blankets that can be machine washed. Don't use wool blankets unless they can be machine washed.
  7. Keep the humidity in your house below 50 percent when possible. Dust mites and mold grow best in damp areas. You may have to use a dehumidifier or an air conditioner to keep the humidity low.
  8. Wipe bathroom surfaces with a solution of bleach and water, and use bleach to clean in the basement and other damp areas to reduce mold and mildew. Try to keep fresh air flowing into these areas, and use a dehumidifier to keep the air dry.
  9. Try not to have pets with fur or feathers, or at least keep them out of your child's bedroom. If you have cats or dogs, shampoo and brush them often.
  10. Keep your child's bedroom windows closed to keep pollen out.
  11. Use a clothes dryer instead of hanging the laundry outside, to keep pollen from getting on clothes and sheets.
  12. Don't smoke cigarettes, pipes or cigars in your home or allow anyone else to smoke there. Help your child stay away from cigarette smoke in other places. Teach your child never to smoke.

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