Posted by Cris on | October 14, 2011 | 1 Comment
A lot people have this dated, 1970-s era image of ‘asthma kids’: you know, the sallow, weedy kid with coke-bottle specs who sat on the sidelines during gym class.
Scratch that image and replace it with one of David Beckham, instead. He’s had asthma his whole life. He’s even been photographed sucking on an inhaler during high-profile soccer matches – then getting back into the game. Or Singapore runner Shafiq Kashmiri, who nailed the 100 metre in 10.98 seconds. He was an ‘asthma kid’ too.
Asthma shouldn’t keep your kids on the sidelines. In fact, it’s even more reason to get them into the game, says Dr. Kenneth Chan, a specialist at Respiratory Medical Associates at Gleneagles Hospital. Strong, healthy lungs are a child’s best defence against the disease. “There’s no reason that children with asthma can’t live a normal, active life,” says Dr. Chan.
Your child is more likely to develop asthma if they suffer form allergic rhinitis or eczema, or your family has a history of asthma, Dr. Chan said at an allergy seminar co-organized last week by sneezywheezy.com and the Asthma and Allergy Association . If you smoke, your child is also more likely to develop asthma. Adults can develop asthma after a viral infection. “I see a lot of adult patients who develop asthma, and they say “Now? In my 30s? I never had asthma as a child”. They probably had a gene and after a viral infection that gene has been activated,” says Dr. Chan. “If you’re coughing for a couple of months, it could be bronchial asthma.”
Asthma attacks can be triggered by colds and viruses, air pollution, house dust mites, weather, exercise or even food. Asthmatics are often allergic to certain foods, like milk, eggs or shellfish, and an allergic reaction can trigger an asthma attack, too. But just because you have asthma doesn’t mean you should avoid certain foods. Get a skin prick test done to find out if you have a genuine allergy, advises Dr. Chan. Cutting out foods without good reason puts nutrition at risk. Emotions figure into all this, too. Certain drugs, like aspirin or beta blockers used for high blood presser can make asthma worse. Stress is a very common cause of asthma attacks, says proving that lifestyle and emotional issues can trigger physical illness, says Dr. Chan.
The bad news is that there is no cure for asthma. The good news is that it can be controlled with preventor medications. Keeping fit also helps. Just look at Beckham. Dr. Chan recommends patients do 30 minutes of exercise, three to five time a week – work hard enough to make yourself breathless, he says. Just keep medications handy in case the exercise triggers an attack, and don’t be afraid to take a preventative puff from your inhaler before getting into the game.
House dust mite allergies are also responsible for a lot of asthmatic attacks. Find our if you’re allergic, and get rid of stuffed toys and bedding that can harbor mites. Use a good vacuum, get rid of carpets – -and if your child is attached to a cuddly, just wash in hot water or freeze it: extreme temperatures will kill off the mites.
Another tip from Dr. Chan: eat lots of fruits and veggies. Vitamin C and E may protect against asthma by reducing the severity of inflammation associated with the condition. “Eating well also helps prevent colds and flu, which can trigger asthma,” he says.