Treatment of a child’s asthma involves following an action plan developed in consultation with your child’s pediatrician. Severe asthmatic attacks require immediate medical attention and treatment at the hospital. Never take asthma lightly!
In case of the usual asthma attacks, the pediatrician may ask you to use medicated inhalations delivered through:
- Metered-dose inhaler: This is a small handheld device and is a common method of taking in the medication for immediate relief. Always keep the inhaler at hand in case of an emergency.
- Nebulizer: The medications are delivered through a mask that contains the asthma medications in the form of mist.
- Dry powder inhalers: Some medications need to be delivered by direct inhalation of their powdered form.
There is no permanent cure for asthma, but some things can help you minimize asthma triggers. Here are a few steps that you can follow:
- Keep the air dry at home. Make sure that the room environment is minimally humid. Ask your child’s doctor if you can use an air-dryer at home.
- Keep indoor air clean. Arrange for an annual check-up of the heaters and air conditioners in your home. The professionals can identify if there is an issue in the filtering system to keep the air clean.
- Avoid passive smoke. Make sure there is no one smoking near your child. Keep the child’s room free of scented candles and vacuum the room daily.
- Protect your child from the external cold air. Look for weather forecasts and check air quality reports on the Internet. Keep your child indoors if the air quality is bad and the weather is extremely cold. Dress your child in woolen clothes entirely to protect them from the cold while outdoors. Wearing a face mask outside can help.
- Avoid pets with fur or feathers. If your child is allergic to dander, it's best to not keep pets with fur or feathers in your home. Even if you have them, keep them away from your child’s room. Consider putting a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in their bedroom. Keep the pets clean by regularly bathing them.
- Clean your home regularly. Reduce the levels of dust and allergens in your home by cleaning your home at least twice a week.
- Remove items that harbor maximum dust. Consider replacing certain household items in your home with items that will remain dust-free or dustproof. Encase the mattresses and pillows in mite- and dust-proof covers. Remove the carpets from your bedroom.
- Keep the air conditioner switched on. Air conditioning helps reduce the entry of pollen grains into your home from outside plantations. In case you do not use the air conditioners, closing the windows during the pollen season also helps.
Can you use alternative medicine for your child’s asthma?
Alternative treatments have been in use for managing symptoms of asthma for a long time. However, proper evidence on such treatment is lacking. While some of them like the non-drug therapies are usually harmless, you can ask your child’s pediatrician about the right one for your child.
Breathing exercises are forms of non-drug treatment that has been routinely used in the treatment of people with asthma. These include structured breathing programs, such as the Buteyko breathing technique, the Papworth method, yoga, and pranayama that manipulate the breathing pattern and help in asthma.
If you do not know any of these non-drug approaches, learn from complementary and alternative practitioners, doctors, psychologists, social workers, or nurses who may be able to teach you all these.
A few home remedies have been tried for asthma, including
Some of these home remedies can interact with the prescribed medications that your child has been taking, and so, it is wise to consult the pediatrician before you try any of them.
Ayurveda also has some effective therapies for treating asthma and other such respiratory illnesses. Oiling or gentle massaging herbal oils over the child’s chest followed by hot fomentation or steam baths have been used by the practitioners of Ayurveda to reduce the exacerbations of asthmatic attacks. Some herbs and their combinations have been proved to work as antihistamines in allergic asthma in many research studies. A special form of therapy known as panchakarma can also help. Consult an alternative medicine practitioner to know more about them. Remember not to start any Ayurvedic therapy before asking your child’s doctor.
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Mali RG, Dhake AS. A Review on Herbal Antiasthmatics. Orient Pharm Exp Med. 2011;11(2):77-90. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3245822/
Rawal M, Chudasma KM, Vyas RV, et al. Effect of Vasantic Vaman and Other Panchakarma Procedures on Disorders of Various Systems. Ayu. 2010;31(3):319-324. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3221065/