One in four Irish children with asthma participate in a reduced level of activities because of the condition, while 27% are absent from school at least once a month, the results of a new survey have revealed.
Meanwhile some parents appear to be in denial about how bad their child's asthma is. Almost all (97%) of the parents surveyed said that they believe that their child's symptoms are well controlled or partially controlled, despite the fact that 10% of these children still cough or wheeze on a daily basis, 13% on a weekly basis and 49% on a monthly basis.
The survey also found that the most common difficulties faced by parents include an inability to control triggers that affect their child's symptoms, such as pollen, dust and air pollution, difficulties in knowing how best to treat the condition and difficulties in administering medication.
According to Dublin GP, Dr Noreen O'Hanrahan significant progress in our understanding of asthma has been made in recent years and this means that the vast majority of children affected ‘can expect to lead full and active lives'.
"Our aim is to ensure parents are fully equipped with the necessary tools to manage their child's condition and especially to anticipate deterioration of the condition. Key to this is ensuring those affected focus on avoiding specific triggers and adhere closely to a medication regime tailored to their condition," she said.
Dr O'Hanrahan pointed out that parents must know about their child's condition, symptoms and medications.
‘In particular, parents can help prevent serious asthma attacks by recognising signs of deterioration in their child's asthma and working with their doctor to develop an appropriate asthma management plan," she explained.
Dr O'Hanrahan also noted that different children react to different asthma triggers and some children may be affected by several triggers.
"For example, if you find that house dust mites are a trigger for your child's asthma, there are certain steps you can take to limit exposure, such as hot washing all bedding at least once a week and vacuuming frequently using a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner."
Common triggers affecting babies and young children affected by asthma include:
-House dust mites.
Meanwhile, the following signs could mean your child's asthma is getting worse:
-Wheezing and coughing first thing in the morning.
-Increased wheezing and coughing after exercise, or doing less exercise.
-Waking at night with a cough or wheeze.
-Needing more and more reliever medicine with less and less effect.
According to Dr O'Hanrahan, while exercise and excitement are also common triggers, it is important for children with asthma to enjoy exercise instead of avoiding physical activity.
"With proper asthma management including the use of a reliever medicine before activities, exercise should not be a problem," she insisted.
The survey of 271 parents of children with asthma was carried out by MSD Ireland through the Irish parenting website, Rollercoaster.ie
For more information on asthma, see our Asthma Clinic here