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Most children do have a wheezing sound when trying to exhale but not all cases of asthma are associated with this symptom

Come winter, the attendance in primary schools declines, as the incidence of a respiratory tract infections soar. Not surprisingly, in the era of allergies, where the body’s immune response seems to respond to trivial allergens, the first line of body’s defence i.e. the respiratory system, is the strata of all action as the airways are at a stage of continuous inflammation, mucous production, and bronchospasm, graduating into a condition called asthma.

Symptoms pertaining to the nose are by far the commonest. There is a nasal discharge which can turn thick and yellow when there is a super added infection. There is feeling of nasal blockage which the child manifests as snoring, when attempting to breathe. This happens when they involuntarily open their mouths to breathe. When the manifestation of allergy is centered in the lungs there is constriction and tightening of the airways in response to the irritation. Clinically, the cough and breathlessness then become predominant. The initial response to the irritation manifests as nasal discharge percolating down into the throat. As a result, the body tries to expel the allergen and mucous produced secondary to the irritation. But as the allergen cannot be ‘expelled’, cough persists and puts a pressure on the functioning of the lung. Breathlessness and cough ensue, and if these are the main symptoms, the condition is called as asthma.

Parents usually observe cough and wheezing when their child attempts to breathe. This indicates mucous secretions, congestion, and may result in shortness of breath. In exercise induced asthma, cough and shortness of breath occur after the onset of physical activity. Most of the children do have a wheezing sound when trying to exhale but not all cases of asthma are associated with this symptom. Yet another sign in a child who has difficulty breathing because of asthma is that the child stops mid-sentence to catch another breath. There is widening of nostrils, laboured breathing, and chest retractions. At the onset of these findings it is very likely that the child is having an attack of acute asthma and needs to be addressed immediately.

Trying to identify the probable triggers would be of great help. Exposure to dust, smoke, pollution, strong odours, perfumes, pollen, pet dander and mold take their place as usual suspects. Environmental changes like variations of weather, cold air during winter play a role as they make a child more susceptible to asthma attacks. A child who is usually prone to cold is also likely to have bouts of asthma. Some children may have reactive airways to the cold/viral trigger.

Addressing the treatment of asthma is crucial. Preventing an asthma attack is also very prudent. Various mediations such as bronchodilators and corticosteroids help relieve the inflammation and bronchospasm in the swollen airways thus alleviating an acute episode. This also decreases the effort of breathing. However, if such acute asthma episodes recur frequently, homoeopathic medicines may be the treatment of choice as they can reduce chronic inflammation of the airways and gradually reduce the incidence of attacks. Over a period of time there is a reduction in the intensity and frequency of the problem. Carbo veg and Ipecac are remedies which help in symptoms of acute asthma. Hepar sulph and Silicea, improve the body’s sensitivity to cold, Pulsatilla helps by preventing one from falling sick due to the change of weather, Pothos, Blatta, and Sabadilla are helpful when attacks are known to be precipitated by dust, smoke, pollution etc. When appropriate homoeopathic treatment is administered, the attacks are fewer and less severe, and the child is capable of physical exercise without being short of breath. There is little need for fast acting medication like bronchodilators and steroids. Some of these medicines also have serious side effects. Avoiding the trigger is a good way to prevent the asthma attacks. However, for a chronic illness like childhood asthma complementary medicine is the best bet.


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