Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the respiratory system. An asthmatic attack may be triggered by exposure to an allergen, cold air, exertion, or even a viral infection such as the common cold. This causes excessive mucus to be produced in the air passages and results in the constriction and inflammation of airways, resulting in laboured breathing.
Symptoms: Signs of an attack include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, unusual paleness or sweating and extreme fatigue. Parents may also notice flaring of nostrils as the child breathes.
Treatment: Fast-acting bronchodilators are recommended for short-term relief from an attack. They act quickly by relaxing tightened muscles around the airways, opening the air passages to ease breathing. These ‘relievers’ are typically provided in pocket-sized, metered-spacer if they have difficulty coordinating the usage of an inhaler. Preventive medications such as corticosteroids, which reduce airway inflammation, may also be taken for long-term control.
Prevention: The most effective method for preventing asthma attacks is identifying the triggers, such as pets or cigarette smoke, and limiting or eliminating exposure to them. Taking preventive medication regularly further reduces the frequency, severity and complications of asthma attacks.
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