Childhood Asthma

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Children and Asthma

This paper will discuss the impact asthma has on a child and their family. It will place emphasis on the strains asthma places on the child and their parents. The physiological aspect of asthma as well as its triggers will be reviewed, along with its prevalence in today’s society. I will examine how the five developmental domains of child and adolescent development pertain to asthma. Asthma will also be applied to two family theories; the Family Systems Theory and the Family Stress and Coping Theory. I will write about the physiology of asthma, prevalence, developmental domains and theories.

The American Lung Association (2003) defines asthma as an inflammatory condition of the bronchial airways. This inflammation causes the normal function of the airways to become excessive and over-reactive, thus producing increased mucus, mucosal swelling, and muscle constriction. These changes produce airway obstruction, chest tightness, cough, and wheezing. Causes or Triggers of Asthma

A child can become susceptible to asthma when allergens, respiratory infections, occupational and environmental exposures, and many unknown factors or environmental stimuli cause persistent airway inflammation, bronchial hyperactivity, and airflow obstruction (Scanlan, Wilkins, Stoller, 1999). Triggers of asthma can vary depending on the child’s physiological make-up. Triggers can range anywhere from pets, dust mites, molds, trees, and pollen to pulmonary irritants such as perfumes, tobacco and cigarette smoke, and paint fumes. Asthma can also be triggered by exercise, cold temperatures, air pollution, infections, uncontrolled emotions, and stress (Kurnat & Moore, 1999). Classification of Asthma

Asthma can be divided into three different categories based on the severity of airway obstruction. According to the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (1995), asthma is listed as mild, moderate, or severe. Mild asthma occurs less than twice a week, lasts for an interval of less than one hour, and does not interfere with physical activity, nor does it affect school attendance. Moderate asthma happens more than twice a week and tends to last for several days. It interferes with physical activity and has an effect on school attendance. Severe asthma occurs frequently and symptoms are continuous. Most physical activity is limited and school attendance is very poor (Kurnat & Moore, 1999). Asthma can be an acute and chronic condition. It is referred to as acute when a child is experiencing an asthma attack, i.e. a sudden onset of shortness of breath, increased work of breathing and increased respiratory rate (Lenny, 1995). The American Lung Association (2003), states that asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood. Although asthma cannot be cured, it can always be controlled. Asthma is termed a chronic condition because of its reoccurrence. Whether asthma is mild, moderate, or severe; it is a chronic condition. Who Does Asthma Affect?

The American Lung Association (2003), states that there has been rapid increase in cases of asthma for children under the age of five. Studies have shown that asthma is more likely to affect boys than girls, especially in the first ten years of life (Le Souef, 1995).

According to Latino Issues Forum (2000), there are 17 million Americans that have asthma, 5 million of whom are under the age of 18. The American Lung Association (2003), conducted a state-by-state study in 2000, where it was found that asthma was more prevalent in African-American children than Caucasian children by almost ten percent, and Latino children by seven percent. The National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases (1997) confirmed that more than ten million school days are missed in a year in the United States due to asthma. Treatment

Because asthma is a disease of the airways, inhalation therapy is preferred to oral or other systemic therapy...
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