Abcs Of Parenting A Child With Asthma

Article discusses three keys that will help educate parents with children newly diagnosed with asthma.

Diagnosis: Asthma.

If your toddler has recently been diagnosed with asthma, you may be experiencing some apprehension, especially if there is not a history of asthma in your immediate family.

But don't despair. Asthma, while serious, is a treatable, manageable disease.

The ABCs of managing your toddler's asthma are as follows.

A -- Awareness. Watching kids suffer with asthma is tough, especially in toddlers who may not be able to articulate their discomfit. Starting with a diagnosis of asthma you can begin to increase your awareness of this disease. As you increase your awareness of asthma and how it impacts kids, you will be more knowledgeable on how to identify your toddler's symptoms and how best to treat them. Another benefit of increasing your awareness of asthma is that you will know whether or not your toddler's asthma is chronic. That determination will further assist you in obtaining the proper treatment of your toddler during an asthma attack. While you may be able to treat a mild attack at home, for example, a stronger, more persistent attack may need to be treated by your child's physician, or, in very severe cases, at a hospital.

Armed with any materials your pediatrician has already given you, begin reading up on asthma. Before purchasing tons of books on the subject, consider less costly options like visiting your local library and obtaining information from local asthma support groups. The support groups, some of which meet at hospitals, are excellent resources for current information concerning kids with asthma. If you have very limited experience with asthma, you may also want to consider taking a class for parents of asthmatic kids. While some are free, others cost upwards to $50 in some cities.

B -- Breathing aids. The best defense against asthma is a breathing aid that helps open your toddler's lungs, helping your child to breathe more normally.

Thus, helping your child breath easier -- as quickly as possible -- is the primary function of any asthma medication.

In severe cases, your toddler may have to get a needle filled with a vital medication to help restore his or her breathing.

Most likely, in non-emergency situations, your toddler will be given either a liquid medication to drink or to take (breath in) via a breathing machine dubbed a "nebulizer." The nebulizer is equipped with either a facemask or a mouthpiece, which your child uses to inhale a prescribed asthma drug for a certain length of time.

To reduce your toddler's fuss at sitting still while on the nebulizer, consider ways to make using the nebulizer fun and/or easy. For really small kids, you may have want to let your child sit in your lap while you hug your child and speak soothingly. Another great idea is to use a counting game. Try counting to 50, for example. Begin counting after your child takes the first deep breath and continue until you reach your max. This game helps distract your toddler, and lets them know that the beginning and ending of medicine time. Another relaxing, fun option is to have your toddler breath to the count of music, or while watching a favorite video to TV show.

A humidifier is another breathing aid that may help your toddler breath better -- daily. Ask your pediatrician whether this is a good breathing aid for your toddler, and, if so, whether a cool or warm mist humidifier would work best.

C -- Cleanliness. One of the keys to treating asthma is understand what triggers your toddler's asthma attacks. Common triggers include very cold weather and allergies, including allergies to some types of cheese and some shellfish. Dust is another common trigger, so be prepared to keep your toddler's room -- and other rooms in your home -- as free of dust as possible.

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