Children UNDER 5’s
Almost half of all young children under 5 will cough and wheeze at some time, usually when they have a cold or viral infection and many will be prescribed inhalers.
Which children are more likely to be diagnosed with asthma?
Children with a family history of:
- Asthma or allergies
- Food allergies
Premature babies are more likely to cough and wheeze with viral infections in the first few years, but are more likely to have ongoing asthma after the age of 5 if they have – a family history of asthma or allergies, eczema or food allergies.
Children exposed to cigarette smoke, even before they are born, are more likely to cough and wheeze and be admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties in the first 5 years.
Triggers – the most common trigger in children under the age of 5 is colds and viral infections. Children in daycare or nursery may get 10 colds a year, therefore those children with asthma symptoms must be treated.
Medications for UNDER 5’s:
Asthma symptoms (cough, wheeze and a tight chest) are difficult to treat in children under 5 years. Their airways are tiny and giving inhalers is difficult. As soon as children can use a spacer with mouthpiece the better – most children by the age of 4 years can use a spacer with mouthpiece with their medications.
Step 1: Quick reliever inhaler – Ventolin or Airomir (usually blue) – 2 puffs given for cough or wheeze as prescried. NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT!
Step 2: If symptoms persist a controller medication may be prescribed. Either – a controller inhaler Flixotide (orange) or Beclomehtasone (Becotide) usually brown – (given every morning and evening even when your child is well) This takes 7 to 10 days to be effective. OR Singulair (once daily from 6 months given as sprinkles in applesauce & chewable tablets from the age of 2 years).
Steroids – a short course of Oral steroids may be prescribed for acute asthma episodes.
Spacers – help the medicine get in the airways. As soon as children can use a spacer with mouthpiece the better. Medications then reach the small airways and asthma will become easier to control. See an asthma nurse to learn how to use spacers effectively.
What else can I do to help?
- Have plenty of fresh air and physical activity and swimming is good for lung development.
- Blow bubbles and pinwheels
- Encourage a good diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Have plenty of physical activity to help the lungs develop.
Online Asthma course – Supporting Children’s Health – for parents of children with Asthma and anyone who works with children. Free 45-minute online course – a certificate is given upon completion of the course.
All teachers, camp counsellors, nurseries and day-care centre staff should be encouraged to take the course annually.