Asthma in Pre-School Aged Children
Wheezing and coughing are very common in pre-school aged children under five years don’t necessarily indicate a child has asthma. In this age group viral illnesses commonly cause what we call viral induced wheeze. This refers to the phenomenon of wheeze in the presence of viral illness. There are other issues which can cause wheeze in babies and young children.
What should we do?
As in all cases of wheeze, in pre-school aged children, it is recommended to visit your doctor. They will undertake a thorough examination and determine the most likely diagnosis and course of action.
Asthma reliever medicine given via a metered dose inhaler (MDI) is commonly used to help manage the symptoms of wheeze in pre-school aged children. It is important parents and carers are aware of the correct use of this device. The MDI needs to be used with a spacer and usually a mask, at least until the child is able to follow instructions and use the standard spacer mouthpiece.
How to use a metered dose inhaler?
Acquaint yourself with these step–by–step instructions in the video below, which the doctor or pharmacist should also explain. Like all medicines for young children, it can be difficult to administer inhaled medicines. Correct delivery relies on the fulfillment of each of the steps. With children the most difficult aspect is avoiding errors related to the loss of the seal between the mask and the child’s face.
A child’s inhaler, spacer and asthma action plan can be carried in a large pencil case with a fabric lining. Be sure that:
- the pencil case is clean
- the lining is made of fabric material (plastic can have static properties which makes the spacer less effective) and,
- the pencil case is not damaged during transport (in the same bag as sports gear, squashed at the bottom of a school bag)