Understanding Asthma and how it affects your special needs child will help you and your family cope with the severity of asthma. For many families who cope with asthma on a regular basis, a small cold could mean a trip to the hospital if preventative measures aren’t taken. Different kids require different treatment. Some children will need medications, breathing treatments with a nebulizer and oxygen. According to statistics, nearly half of all children going to ER have asthma and over 1/3 of those need to be admitted.
Asthma is an inflammation of the airways in the lungs. This inflammation results in narrowed airways that restrict airflow. Everyone who has asthma is affected differently depending on the conditions of their lungs and what causes the asthma. In children asthma is divided into 3 categories: exercised induced asthma, allergy induced and non-allergy induced. Of the 3, non-allergen induced asthma is the hardest to diagnose and the hardest to keep under control. Asthma can affect children by causing shortness of breath, a tight feeling in the chest, fits of coughing or a generally lethargic period.
Once your child has been diagnosed with asthma, your doctor and respiratory therapist will develop a treatment plan. The goal of a treatment plan should be to ensure your child is able to participate in as many activities as possible without having a flare up of asthma.
Many plans include a stop light approach. Green means symptoms are under control and the medications and exercises are keeping the asthma at bay. Yellow means there are occasional flare-ups and the asthma needs to be evaluated to see if changes in the treatment need to be made. Red means the asthma is resulting in hospital or ER visits to open airways in order to breathe. Asthma medications to treat asthma include low-dose inhaled corticosteroids for long-term control; a rescue inhaler (short-acting bronchodilator) and many children are also prescribed long-term allergy medicine to eliminate allergic reactions.
Adding asthma to the mix of problems your child has can require many changes to your already hectic routine. Seeking help from a good pulmonologist or an asthma/allergy doctor can help your child maintain the best lung function. Your respiratory therapist can help you learn to recognize the sometimes-subtle changes between baseline and an asthma flare-up. Asthma can cause many complications when added to other medical conditions. This makes learning to take action at the first sign of a respiratory problem paramount. While asthma can cause respiratory problems to be worse, many times trips to the ER involve a mix of asthma and other lung conditions that need treatment. If you have questions about your child’s asthma or treatment plan, your respiratory therapist at RSVP Home Care can help. Our respiratory therapists are on call 24/7 to answer questions and refer you to the help that is appropriate for your child’s needs.