What Causes My Child's Asthma?

Lourdes R. Laraya-Cuasay, MD, is a pediatric pulmonologist who practices at Cardon Children's Medical Center.

Question: What are the most common causes of my child’s asthma attacks?

Answer: Asthma attacks are mostly preventable if parents and children gain an understanding of what specifically triggers the asthma attack. Through careful questioning and development of an educational/treatment plan, a medical professional can help you and your child understand what causes the attack and how to avoid those triggers. 

There are many things that can trigger an attack. Some common culprits include odors from cooking, perfumes, gasoline, chlorinated pools, approaching rainstorms, tobacco, cigarette smoke, and orange blossoms. Sudden weather changes, windy or humid days, cold or hot foods, and exercise are also common triggers. The culprit may be the ubiquitous pens, markers or crayons in your child's school bag. Additionally, dust particles and even excessive laughter can bring on an asthma attack. Indeed, identification of asthma triggers is a lifetime program requiring vigilance.

Because of the complexity of the triggers involved that set off an asthma attack in individual patients, it is imperative that you work with your physician and/or asthma educator in the development and implementation of a treatment plan. Many children needlessly suffer from asthma problems because they fail to stick to their regiment as described by a medical professional. As a parent, you can help your child understand the importance of the steps outlined to them. The key for your child is identifying the obvious triggers that set off an attack.

Nevertheless, it is important to understand that certain triggers are relatively unavoidable, such as exposure to common viral respiratory infections. Pets can also be a source of problems for many asthmatics. It is understandable that the bond between a child and their pet is strong, but parents must confront the emotional obstacles when evidence shows that a pet is the trigger.

Without a doubt, prevention of an asthma attack can be possible if you work closely with your child and your medical professional by enrolling in a professional, asthmatic counseling program. The end result will be a better quality of life for you and your child.

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