Bronchial asthma is a condition that affects the bronchial tubes and how well a person breathes. Bronchial tubes become inflamed and restrict the airflow to and from the lungs. This inflammation can cause congestion and lead to other respiratory problems. When asthma occurs in children, special care must be taken when treating it. Children can’t take over the counter medications made for adults, so other treatment plans need to be used.
There are two major categories of medications for asthma. Certain medications are used to relieve asthma symptoms, while others are employed to prevent them from occurring.
Medications that fall into the “reliever” category are fast-acting and used in case of an emergency or to relieve an acute asthma attack. Medications that are used to prevent symptoms are taken on a long term basis. Their most prominent function is to keep the inflammation in the bronchial airways under control and prevent acute attacks.
One of the most common forms of treatment in children is the use of inhalers or nebulizers. An inhaler is a small portable medication that dispenses metered doses of medicines such as albuterol. Inhalers can deliver medicine in the form of a mist or as a dry powder. Younger children under the age of four may need to use a face mask. Inhalers are easy to use and are convenient ways of dispensing asthma medications in an emergency situation
Inhalers are also called “rescue” medications. They act quickly to reduce inflammation and improve oxygen flow. Inhalers are used during an acute attack but do not have the capability to prevent future flare ups.
Nebulizers also dispense asthma medications in a mist form. Inhaled corticosteroids have been proven most effective in the treatment of smaller children who suffer from asthma. They are used on a more permanent basis and employ a face mask to make sure the patient receives as much of the medicine as possible. Nebulizers are much easier for a small child to use than an inhaler. With a nebulizer, the child is allowed to breathe in a normal fashion while receiving the medication. The medications dispensed through a nebulizer are meant to help control asthma on a long term basis.
If bronchial asthma is caused by exposure to allergens such as pollens or dust, immunotherapy may be used to control the frequency of attacks. Immunotherapy is where the body is administered shots that contain forms of the allergens a person has reactions to. This is done in the hopes that the body will build immunities and the reactions to the allergens will have little or no effect. Immunotherapy is used as a preventive form of asthma treatment.
Some medications that are taken on a long term basis can be prescribed in pill form. There are several bronchodilators available that help to keep the airways open. These types of medications are normally taken once or twice a day and in conjunction with an inhaled corticosteroid to reduce the incidence of acute attacks.