You can’t have missed all the scary facts and figures on Delhi’s pollution levels. If a child in your family has asthma, this seems truly scary. You’re worried about your child’s breathing difficulties, the medicines he or she has to take every day.
You worry about the side effects of those medicines. You worry when your child displays symptoms that mean she or he cannot go to school. You worry about acute asthma attacks. That’s because asthma is not merely a disease, it’s also about emotions.
But asthma in children is easily controlled, so your child can lead a normal life. My advice to parents of children with asthma:
ACCEPT: No one likes being told their child has asthma. So some doctors couch the diagnosis in nicer sounding words, such as ‘allergy’ or ‘bronchitis’ or ‘chest congestion’. This only delays proper treatment. So accept the diagnosis and start looking for practical solutions.
ATTITUDE: Parents’ attitudes and feelings are imbibed by children. If you say, ‘My poor baby, I’m sorry you have to wear spectacles so young,’ your child will resent the spectacles rather than enjoy seeing clearly.
It’s the same with asthma, asthma medications and inhalers. If your constant refrain is, ‘How long will the inhaler be needed?’, your child will also view it negatively. But if you show your happiness over the fact that the device is so easy to use and works so well, the same positive feelings will be imbibed by your child.
HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS:
Some children outgrow their asthma. Some don’t. This is largely determined by genes over which we don’t have control. Yes, environmental control and diet regulation help. If your child is to outgrow asthma, it would happen over years and not in days, weeks or months.
TRY ALTERNATIVE SYSTEMS:
Yoga, homeopathy, ayurveda and naturopathy can help asthmatics – but not all patients. If you have faith, try them. But do not stop the normal treatment suddenly.
DO NOT PAMPER:
Parents sometimes try to over-compensate their asthmatic child by pampering. This never helps. In fact, it creates further difficulties – the child starts using the asthma, sometimes sub-consciously, to get her or his way.
With proper control of asthma, your child can and should have a normal life, including participation in sports. This should be encouraged. Sports involving spurts of activity are usually better than prolonged exertion like long-distance running. Swimming is usually good.
BE PARTNERS WITH THE DOCTOR:
Sometimes, anger or frustration related to the diagnosis of asthma is misdirected towards the doctor. But really, she or he is part of the solution. Be friends with her or him. Your child will benefit.
Dr Jaggi is the director of Asthma Chest & Allergy Centre, New Delhi.
For more information on asthma, go to www.acac.in
From HT Brunch, June 7
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