What can I do to prevent my child from developing asthma?

There’s nothing you can do to prevent your child from developing asthma if it’s in her genes. And you won’t know whether your child will be asthmatic until she shows persistent symptoms, such as wheezing and constant coughing. That said, you may be able to minimize the severity of your child’s symptoms if you do the following:

  • Limit your child’s exposure to dust mites.Encase your child’s mattress in an impermeable cover, remove carpeting and plush toys from her room, use blinds instead of heavy fabric drapes, and wash her bedding once a week in hot water.
  • Keep your child away from secondhand smoke.Cigarette smoke isn’t technically considered an allergen, but it does irritate the lungs.
  • Limit your child’s exposure to air pollution.Air pollutants such as ozone can irritate the lungs and cause breathing problems in people with sensitive respiratory tracts. Check your local newspaper or radio for reports on the Air Quality Index, and consider keeping your child indoors on days when the air quality is poor.
  • Avoid using a fireplace or wood stove.Although the warmth and coziness are inviting, the smoke may irritate your child’s respiratory system.
  • Limit exposure to pet dander.If your child has developed an allergy to your family pet, one option is to keep the pet outside. Of course, depending on your pet’s disposition and your living situation, this won’t always be possible.
  • Reduce mold in your home.Install exhaust fans or open the window in the kitchen when cooking and in the bathroom when showering, for example. Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier, if necessary, to keep the humidity level between 35 and 50 percent. Repair leaks, which can cause mold growth behind walls and under floors, and clean moldy surfaces using soap and water. Make sure damp or wet clothing or surfaces are dried as soon as possible to prevent mold growth.

Can my child be cured of asthma?

There’s no cure for asthma, although some asthmatic children who wheeze only when they have colds or upper respiratory tract infections outgrow the tendency to wheeze over time. In general, asthma is thought to be a lifelong condition, although the frequency and severity of symptoms may change as your child grows.

Close medical follow-up and appropriate treatment will enable your child to manage his asthma as he gets older so he can run, swim, and play like other children. Most children with asthma grow up to be healthy adults.

Asthma can be frightening for both you and your child, but remember, you’re not alone. You may be surprised to learn how many families are dealing with asthma.


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