Q& A

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - ADVICE -

TMy two-year-old daughter has been prone to chest in­fec­tions since she was born and af­ter her last

bout of an­tibi­otics, the GP said it might be time to con­sider putting her on an in­haler. I’ve got the pre­scrip­tion now but friends have told me that putting her on an in­haler at such a young age will only make her prob­lems worse. The GP said it was up to me to de­cide if I wanted to go ahead with the in­haler. She seems okay at the mo­ment but it’s prob­a­bly only a mat­ter of time be­fore she gets an­other chest in­fec­tion. What are the draw­backs to in­halers for small chil­dren? I have no

ex­pe­ri­ence of this as there is no asthma or any­thing like that in my fam­ily. HINK of our air­ways as a tree. The trunk is called the tra­chea. The larger branches are called bronchi and the next small branches are the bron­chi­oles. If there is in­flam­ma­tion any­where along this tree ir­ri­ta­tion can oc­cur. Ir­ri­ta­tion in the air­way may be no­ticed as a cough, wheeze or short­ness of breath.

Asthma is a con­di­tion in which there is sen­si­tiv­ity, ir­ri­ta­tion and in­flam­ma­tion of the air­ways. Chronic cough in chil­dren can be a sign of un­der­ly­ing asthma. Asthma isn’t usu­ally di­ag­nosed un­der the age of two but in those over this age with chronic cough, it may be rea­son­able to start a trial of in­halers to see if symp­toms im­prove. There are num­ber of fac­tors that put peo­ple at risk of cough and wheeze. House­hold smoke ex­po­sure is a well-known risk, es­pe­cially ma­ter­nal smok­ing, so it’s im­por­tant not to smoke at home and not al­low any­one else to ei­ther. Asthma can run in fam­i­lies but this isn’t al­ways the case. A fam­ily his­tory of eczema and hay fever also in­creases the risk.

The symp­toms of asthma can be fright­en­ing for par­ents as the wheez­ing and cough­ing can be quite pro­nounced. Your daughter’s symp­toms are not un­usual for those with asthma. For some peo­ple with asthma the win­ter is par­tic­u­larly prob­lem­atic. The cold weather or sim­ply be­ing in­doors and ex­posed more to house dust mites can trig­ger a flare caus­ing cough, wheeze and short­ness of breath. Re­s­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions are also a trig­ger. You did the right thing chat­ting to your GP and it sounds like he/she feels it’s worth try­ing an in­haler.

It is im­por­tant to point out that un­con­trolled asthma is a se­ri­ous con­di­tion that can cause harm. I have no con­cerns as re­gards the use of pre­scribed in­halers in chil­dren who need them. They can be life­sav­ing.

Asthma is not a cur­able con­di­tion, although some do out­grow it, and

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