Nearly 10 percent of children in the United States suffer from asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dealing with a chronic health condition like asthma has several significant effects on a child’s lifestyle. Childhood should be fun and carefree, but kids with asthma have to take on some very big worries and responsibilities. They need to learn which symptoms and events are likely to trigger an attack, such as cold weather, exercise, stressful situations and exposure to secondhand smoke. Kids, their families and other caregivers must all learn to recognize the signs of an attack and how to respond to it quickly, such as using a steroid inhaler during acute attacks. Some kids also take daily maintenance medications, such as bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory drugs, which may reduce the risk of future attacks. Being active is a key component of being healthy and physical activity is a major part of many kids’ lives. However, kids with asthma often have limitations that make it difficult to participate in sports, active playground games and activities like dancing. Asthma doesn’t usually prevent kids from participating in these events, but they are often at greater risk of experiencing an asthma attack in these situations.
Both the children and the adults on the sidelines need to be aware of the possibility that an asthma attack could occur and what to do if it does. Anything that makes a child stand out can cause feelings of embarrassment and even shame. Kids with asthma may fear having an attack at school, or feel uncomfortable about having to use an inhaler in the presence of their friends. They may feel left out when they can’t always participate in activities with their peers. Having any serious, chronic illness is scary, and kids with asthma need extra emotional support to develop additional coping skills. Asthma often causes missed school days and these absences from school can quickly lead to a child falling behind. Kids with asthma may need extra tutoring to keep up with their classes, and understanding teachers who are aware of their students’ health issues are crucial. In some cases, severe or frequent asthma-related illness and hospitalization may even require parents to consider homeschooling. Parents of children who have asthma often worry constantly about their child. When a child is first diagnosed with asthma there tends to be frequent emergency room visits due to the fear of the parents for their child’s safety.
This situation impacts the whole family. Places that are unhealthy for an asthma sufferer are avoided, which can keep the other family members from having these experiences. The direct costs of asthma are estimated at more than $9.4 billion. This cost is born by individuals, families, health systems and insurance providers according to the Allergy and Asthma Advocate.