Detecting asthma at an early stage
If asthma is diagnosed in children early on, there is a good chance that they will grow out of it by the time they are adults or that they will at least experience fewer symptoms. Read the article on asthma symptoms (in German) to find out how to recognise the signs in children.
Regular use of an inhaler is absolutely essential in treating asthma. Inhalations either clear and moisturise the airways with a saline solution or deliver medication like cortisone to the lungs.
For children, it's best to use an electric-powered device with a handheld mouthpiece. For babies and young children, a nebuliser with face mask is easiest.
Each session should last around five to ten minutes. It's best not to let your child use their nebuliser or inhaler shortly before going to bed as the inhalation loosens mucus in the lungs that has to be coughed up.
Don't be afraid of cortisone
Cortisone has something of a bad reputation, thanks to the potential side-effects. But there is no need for concern when used in the treatment of asthma: when cortisone is inhaled, it goes straight to the part of the body that needs it most – the respiratory tract – without affecting the entire organism. Besides, the dosage for asthma is very low compared with that for other conditions.
The biggest risks associated with regularly inhaling cortisone are hoarseness or a yeast infection in the mouth and throat. You can prevent these side-effects by making your child eat, drink, brush their teeth or rinse their mouth after inhaling.
Treat allergies and avoid triggers
Avoiding allergy triggers – and thus asthma triggers – is an important aspect of treating allergic asthma. But this is often difficult, if not impossible. No child wants to have to give away their beloved cat or be kept indoors during the pollen season.
Allergies can be treated with immunotherapy (also known as "hyposensitisation"), a process in which the body is gradually made less sensitive to the allergen. As a rule, children should be at least five years old for this type of treatment.
Physical exercise improves lung function. That's why kids with asthma should take part in PE lessons. Let the teachers know your child is asthmatic, so they can look out for signs of a potential asthma attack and follow these guidelines:
- Make sure the child warms up sufficiently. Don't go suddenly from rest to high-intensity exercise.
- Allow the child to stop at any time if the effort is too great. Don't let it push itself to the limit.
- Avoid allergy triggers as much as possible when doing sport. In other words, no dusty gym halls and no outdoor exercise during the pollen season.
- Make sure the child always has their reliever inhaler with them!
Safety in managing asthma
To teach children to manage their condition properly, we've teamed up with the aha! Swiss Allergy Centre to run various programmes, including courses, youth camps and children's holiday camps. You can also find short video clips in German on the website of the Swiss Lung Association explaining the disease and how your child can manage it.