Asthma is often confused with wheezing or other common cold infections. The presence of asthma is only confirmed when there is a long-term inflammation of the bronchioles in the baby’s lungs.
Apart from respiratory infections, which are caused by viruses and bacteria, asthma is often caused by allergies like hay fever. It may take the form of an allergic reaction, triggered off by allergens like pet saliva, skin or urine, dust mites, pollen, airborne irritants such as cigarette smoke, and mold spores.
These triggers set off chemical reactions inside the baby’s lungs and the antibodies swell the lining of the baby’s airways, hindering smooth air flow.
Cold air aggravates asthmatic conditions.
Some common causes can also be:
- Parents or people near the baby smoke. This makes the baby nearly four times as likely to start wheezing
- If the baby was born prematurely or with a low birth weight
- If one or both the parents have a history of asthma or any allergic condition like eczema
- If the baby lives in a home that has damp or mold problems
Unlike in the case of adults, a baby’s allergy conditions may not be known beforehand and hence during her growing up years, parents or caregivers should observe and note how the baby’s skin and the body respond to different textures and objects around her.
A child can be said to be suffering from asthma only when a pattern of similar symptoms is observed over a period of time. Some of the most common symptoms are:
- A persistent and dry cough, which gets worse during late night and early morning
- Shortness of breath, and tightness or retraction in the chest and abdomen region
- Less energy during play
- See-saw motions in the chest from laboured breathing
- Tightened neck and chest muscles
Asthma is a long-term condition without any known sure-shot cure. Some babies outgrow their asthma or become less prone to it with age. Meanwhile, medicines to keep asthma under control can be administered under medical supervision and exposure to things that can cause allergies should be controlled.
Asthma medicines are often delivered using an inhaler or through a nebulizer. The severity of the infection will determine the frequency and intensity of medication. Regular exercise also helps asthmatic children in the long run to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.