Many of us don’t know what an asthma attack is like or what it would be like to try to help our own child during an asthma attack. Others know all too well what asthma does to a child and how it is an unwelcome and dangerously unpredictible guest that just won’t leave your family’s home.
Understanding Asthma Attacks
Get personal advice from a qualified health professional.
Signs of asthma in a 4-year-old on YouTube, young girl having an asthma attack in the hospital (1:06) 3/18/2009.
Recorded sound of asthma attack on YouTube, asthma wheezing (sound) (1:58). “Lost my inhaler, went to ER afterwards…”
(reenactment) 8-year old boy has a severe asthma attack, Rescue 911 Episode 619 (12:14), first aired 2/21/1995.
(reenactment) Wife has asthma attack & husband does rescue breathing, Rescue 911 Episode 707 (10:36), aired 2/15/1996.
Asthma Attack (Asthma-Free School Zone) (2:21). Educational piece: A boy is having trouble breathing. A friend approaches and asks if he is has asthma. The boy nods yes. Other friends arrive and take a series of steps that help the boy feel better.
Health Science Channel 424 Recognizing an Asthma Attack in Your Child (4:14). Certain things cause, or trigger, “asthma attacks” or make asthma worse. Common asthma triggers are: infections in the airways; viral infections of the ear, nose, and throat; other infections (such as pneumonia); things in the environment (outside or indoor air you breathe); cigarette smoke; irritants in the air (air pollution); cold air; dry air; sudden changes in the weather.
The Body of Evidence: Current Medical Research on Asthma in Children
“Children and infants are among the most susceptible to many of the air pollutants. In addition to associations between air pollution and respiratory symptoms, asthma exacerbations, and asthma hospitalizations, recent studies have found links between air pollution and preterm birth, infant mortality, deficits in lung growth, and possibly, development of asthma.”
“Persons with asthma are more sensitive than persons without asthma to air pollutants such as cigarette smoke, traffic emissions, and photochemical smog components. It has also been demonstrated that exposure to a mix of allergens and irritants can at times promote the development phase (induction) of the disease.”
All children are “sensitive” to PM 2.5 pollution. Children with asthma are “unusually sensitive.” See Judging Particulate Levels in Your Area. Special health precautions must be taken to protect children, especially children with asthma, from exposure to PM 2.5 pollution. Which is incredibly difficult when you don’t know the concentrations of PM 2.5 inside or outside.
To diagnose asthma, physicians can use a screening procedure with spirometry and step testing to identify school children with suspected undiagnosed asthma.
Since CDC tracking began in 2001, current asthma prevalence in children (0-17 years) has ranged from approximately 8.3% (2002) to 9.4% (2008). Environmental exposures such as environmental tobacco smoke, dust mites, cockroach allergen, outdoor air pollution (e.g., ozone, particulate matter), pets, and mold are considered important triggers of an asthma attack. Between 1997 and 2008, asthma attack prevalence rates have ranged from 5.2% (2005) to 5.8% (2002).
Also, see Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report: The State of Childhood Asthma, United States 1980-2005 [365KB] 12/2006.
Approximately 8% of children in Alaska have asthma and asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism resulting in 14 million days missed annually in the US, according to the American Lung Association. 9.6% of children currently have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Self-reported data are subject to biases, including underestimation. See: EPA report Asthma Prevalence.