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The majority of children with asthma have allergies. Even exposure to low-grade allergens (those that do not cause significant allergic reactions) may increase the severity of the asthma. In addition, allergies may play a role in undiagnosed asthma cases. Other triggers of childhood asthma may include the following:
However, with proper management of the asthma, such as avoiding triggers, taking prescribed medications, monitoring for warning signs, and knowing what to do during an asthma attack, an individual with asthma can conduct a healthy and active lifestyle.
How asthma will affect a child throughout his/her lifetime varies, depending on the child. For some children, asthma improves during the teenage years, while others have symptoms that become more severe over time. About half of the children who have asthma at a young age appear to "outgrow" it, although the asthma symptoms may reappear later in life.
Exercise, such as running, may trigger an asthma attack in the majority of adolescents with asthma. However, with proper management, an adolescent with asthma can maintain full participation in most sports. Aerobic exercise actually improves airway function by strengthening breathing muscles. Some tips for exercising with asthma include the following:
Some adolescents with asthma may need to take their medications during school hours. It is important that the adolescent, family, physician, and school staff all work together toward meeting the asthma treatment goals. To ensure optimal asthma care during school hours, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology recommends the following:
It is very important to be honest with your teen about his/her condition, the severity of the condition, and the use of medications. Always remember, achieving independence is an important goal for an adolescent. They do no want to be different, yet they will need guidance and supervision on any restrictions they might have.
Generally, many adolescents resist having to take chronic medications, do not like having restrictions on their life, and do not want to be different. It is crucial to involve your adolescent in every aspect of the management of his/her asthma. He/she should help with goal setting and help decide which medications work best for him/her. Asthma "contracts" can be given to your adolescent child in order that he/she may have some control of his/her asthma, yet continue to allow overall parental supervision of his/her condition.
Having asthma does not have to mean having less fun than other adolescents. It is important for your adolescent child to tell his/her friends and dates what triggers the asthma, such as cigarette smoke or even perfumes or after-shaves, depending on his/her sensitivity. In addition, your adolescent child should continue taking the asthma medication as prescribed. If your adolescent child has exercise-induced asthma, he/she may need to take a preventive medicine before participating in any physical activities, such as dancing. Always consult your adolescent's physician if you have questions.
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Online Resources of Adolescent Medicine
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