Asthma and the common cold

Parents of a child with asthma realize early on they can’t wrap their child in a bubble and protect him or her from the world. Asthmatic children face the same hazards as anyone –  and, at this time of year, that means there’s always a chance of catching a cold.
little girl child sick 200x300 Asthma and the common cold Photo

The common cold could spell danger for kids with asthma.

While a stuffy nose is inconvenient for most, for the asthmatic child the addition of wheezing and a tight chest means that a minor viral infection becomes a major problem. Consider the common side-effects of a cold or flu:

  • Bronchospasms
  • Increased mucus production
  • Swollen and inflamed airways
 Asthmatics learn to rely on rescue inhalers and different types of inhalation treatments to control their condition. Yet, clogged airways can reduce the effectiveness of drug therapy. So how can you cope? Here are some tips on preventing and managing colds for your asthmatic child this season:

Preventing the Cold

As with most things health related, an ounce of prevention goes a long way. Good hygiene is the front line of defense against getting sick.
  • Teach your entire family to wash their hands often.
  • Ask the pediatrician about getting a flu shot for everyone in the household.
  • Communicate with your child’s school – This will help teachers keep sick kids away from the general population and, especially, at-risk children.
  • Use the body’s natural ability to fight infection. This means teaching your child how to eat healthy foods, get plenty of sleep and stay active despite the illness.

Managing Your Child’s Asthma

No matter what you do, every child gets the occasional cold. Parents of asthmatic children need to take steps to manage both conditions effectively.
Call the doctor – Don’t be afraid to call your doctor if concerned.
Stay true to your asthma action plan –This is a critical step for any parent with an asthmatic child. An asthma action plan involves increasing medication and treatments in case of an attack. A cold makes an asthma attack more likely.
Keep your child in bed – Rest and fluids are the best medicine for a respiratory infection. Give over the counter medication only with a doctor’s approval.
Monitor your child’s airflow using a peak flow meter – If you don’t have one, ask your doctor about it.
Get immediate help if your child is wheezing, has an extremely sore throat, high fever or is bringing up colored phlegm. 
Since there’s no sure fire way to stop kids from getting sick, parents need to take a proactive approach to reduce the risk and learn ways to manage both illnesses at once. With cold season upon us, now is the time to create a plan to lower the risk and deal with the common cold if it does show up at your door.
Read more about asthma and the flu at Vitals.