Asthma And Stress
Strong emotional reactions both positive and negative may trigger asthma symptoms in some children. Parents often ask whether there's a link between asthma and emotions, particularly those emotions that upset or stress children. Many studies have looked at a possible connection between asthma and stress, but none are conclusive.
Parents and professionals have observed that shouting from anger or excitement can bring on symptoms in some children with asthma, as can hard crying or a tantrum. Laughing hard can even be a trigger for some youngsters. Strong emotions seem to make some children hyperventilate: they breathe in and out faster and less deeply. Hyperventilation can make their airways cool off and get dried out, which in turn may trigger an asthma flare.
You can't prevent every situation that could lead to crying or yelling, but try to do whatever you can to keep negative emotions and arguments from escalating into screaming matches. If asthma symptoms are triggered by emotionally charged situations, use the quick relief medicine promptly. You certainly want your child to have fun and laugh. A little tickling is fun, but don't overdo it. Stop before your child starts to get short of breath or cough.
Asthma And Sleeping
Children with poorly controlled asthma often have symptoms at night. As mentioned previously, it is important to create a trigger free environment in your child's bedroom. You can go a step further: where your child sleeps in the bedroom can also affect asthma triggers. In Sasha's case, for example, when her family discovered that cold air triggers her asthma, they moved her bed away from the window. She loves her bunk beds, but her parents make sure that she always sleeps on the top bunk; if she slept on the lower bunk, she would have greater exposure to dust mites from the mattress above.
If nighttime coughing makes your child wake up more than twice a month, let your doctor or nurse practitioner know. This usually means that she needs to be on another medicine or a higher dose of the medicine that she is currently taking.
Make sure that the quick-relief medicine is easily accessible by you or your child, depending on her age. Sleepless nights usually lead to less productive days, especially in school aged children. If coughing has made your child lose sleep, make sure she is physically well enough to go to school the next day. If she is, let the teacher or school nurse know that she had some coughing during the night and may be a little sleepy the following day. You do not need to keep your child home unless she is having symptoms in the morning.
Remember that a child whose asthma is well controlled should not need more than two canisters of quick-relief medicine (albuterol) in a year. If your child requires more than this because of nighttime symptoms, contact your child s doctor right away.
Every child's participation in family life includes helping out with chores. There's no reason children with asthma should be excused from these responsibilities. They should be able to participate in:
Setting and clearing the table
Drying dishes and putting them away
Sorting and folding laundry
Food shopping and putting groceries away
Washing the family car
Sewing or mending
But certain chores may trigger asthma flares and should be avoided. These include:
Cleaning with strong-smelling cleaners
Brushing or washing pets
Children with asthma can participate in many physical activities that families do together. Encourage activities that your family will enjoy.
Most children can play any sport if they take the right medicine and keep their asthma under control. Many Olympic athletes have asthma and are able to excel in their chosen sport because their asthma is controlled. Be aware, however, that a child with asthma will need to warm up slowly for high-level activities. When you participate in family sport activities together, do warm-up exercises with your child.
Other nonphysical family activities that may be equally enjoyable include going to movies, museums, and amusement parks in tobacco smoke free environments. In general, your child should avoid hayrides, zoos, and park outings in high pollen seasons.
Vacations should be planned with the entire family's input, but it is important to choose an environment that will be less likely to trigger an asthma episode. Clearly if your child gets sick on the vacation, no one is going to have much fun.
Asthma and Behavior
Sometimes a child may try to take advantage of his asthma to get extra days off from school or avoid chores and other responsibilities. At school, he may try to get out of gym class or other activities he doesn't like.
You don't want to reward a child for these behaviors when they're not genuine. At the same time, you want to be sure you are taking his asthma seriously. It's not always easy to tell whether his complaints are real or an excuse, but here's a general guideline: be firm and consistent, and don't reward him for being sick. If he's home with an asthma flare, for example, give him the attention he needs, but don't turn a sick day into a fun day by treating him to extra presents or food treats that send the message that being sick is a pleasant event.
Some youngsters think of asthma as a serious handicap that makes them sick all the time. They may feel they're different from their classmates or "not as good." They may have trouble making friends, especially if they have to miss a lot of school or can't participate in after school sports and other activities. They may be more concerned about what they can't do because of their asthma than what they can do.
Once your child's asthma is under control, most of the reasons for his negative feelings will disappear. He'll still be a little different because he has asthma, but in most other ways he'll be just like every other child. As his health improves, help him focus on what he can do and encourage him to become gradually more active.
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