Bronchial asthma in a teenager is a delicate and sensitive topic. On the one hand, it is impossible to let such a terrible disease take its course, but on the other hand, a rough child denies the symptoms of the disease, refuses to use medicinal inhalers and does not come in contact with parents.
You can understand a teenager: a significant burden is placed on his shoulders in school, preparing for entering educational institutions, crushing the opinion of his peers, and even temptations, such as smoking and alcohol, become interesting. However, one should not forget about health either, mistakes at this age can have consequences after years.
On the international day of quitting smoking – November 15 – together with experts we will examine what are the peculiarities of the course of adolescent bronchial asthma. And why smoking, both active and passive, has such a negative impact on the disease.
Bronchial asthma in adolescents – what are the features?
Bronchial asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs, the most common in the world today. Among the adult population, about 6% suffer from it, and up to 30% among children. In recent years, there has been a tendency to rejuvenate bronchial asthma and weighting its course. The debut of the disease often happens in childhood and adolescence.
The prevalence of bronchial asthma among children depends on gender. Most often, parents of boys experience this disease. After 18 years, gender differences are erased.
Atopic bronchial asthma is found among adolescents in 88.2% of cases; the non-allergic (8.6%) and “aspirin” (3.2%) forms are much less commonly diagnosed.
The course of bronchial asthma during puberty is paradoxical. Symptoms and complaints do not fit into the classic picture that doctors are used to watching. Often the equivalent of an attack is a night cough, and typical attacks may be absent altogether or be short-lived. Between episodes of cough, as a rule, the child feels healthy.
Teenagers “outgrow” asthma – a myth or reality?
Despite the fact that bronchial asthma is a chronic disease, many parents want to believe in the miraculous recovery of a child who has reached the age of 12-14 years. Indeed, the symptoms of the disease become much easier or even disappear altogether in 30-70% of adolescents. However, this is not a cure. Despite well-being, lung function remains inadequate. If such a “recovered” adolescent performs a study of the function of external respiration, the doctor may well detect the presence of latent bronchospasm. Contact with external stimuli, such as tobacco smoke, can cause coughing, indicating that bronchial hyperreactivity persists.
“Disappeared” in puberty, bronchial asthma, especially in boys, reappears in adulthood.
What influences the course of bronchial asthma in puberty?
Why is asthma – a disease that has clear diagnostic criteria and classical manifestations, has a completely atypical course at the age of 12 to 20 years? This is partly due to the psychological characteristics of adolescence: mood swings, depressive thoughts, dependence on the opinions of friends, increased demands on themselves and complexes associated with the presence of the disease. In addition, the child becomes susceptible to the temptations that make him cool in the eyes of his peers – smoking, drinking alcohol. Denial of the disease in itself causes the rejection of therapeutic inhalers, non-compliance with the recommendations of the doctor and abuse of short-acting bronchodilators (drugs that relieve symptoms for a short time).
Typical mistakes of parents and children suffering from bronchial asthma
In most cases, adolescents suffer from mild asthma, which allows both adults and children
Parents believe that their child matures and the disease “outgrows” gradually, and therefore it is possible to calm down. You can refuse to visit the doctor and cancel the treatment. Moreover, it is extremely difficult to explain to a teenager that his illness, despite the minimal symptoms, requires control. Making use of inhalers is even more difficult. Parents try to avoid conflict with an explosive teenager. Another problem is the emerging need to find a doctor for an allergist-immunologist for constant observation of the child.
Most adolescents do not attach due importance to bronchial asthma. They believe that it is impossible to die from it, and everything else does not require their attention. The desire to conceal their disease, so as not to appear “inferior,” eventually leads to the fact that the child unwittingly underestimates the severity of the symptoms or denies their presence altogether and considers himself completely healthy. Although at this time, slowly but surely, there is a loss of control over the disease.
Smoking and bronchial asthma in adolescents are incompatible
According to statistics, the prevalence of smoking among people with diagnosed bronchial asthma is about 25-30%, and among teenagers comes to 50%. It is proved that this addiction can provoke the development of bronchial asthma and aggravate its course.
The fact is that tobacco smoke provokes the development of inflammation in the bronchi, especially of small caliber, and also contributes to the development of irreversible structural changes in them. All this leads to impaired ventilation, and therefore – loss of control over the disease, more frequent exacerbations.
No less dangerous for a child is passive smoking of people in his close environment – parents and friends. In passive smoking, it is customary to distinguish the main stream of smoke exhaled by a person and the sidestream that is emitted by a smoldering cigarette. The particles of the lateral stream are so small that they are able to penetrate into the small bronchi and cause their inflammation. That is why smoking parents in the presence of a teenager leads to more frequent exacerbations of his bronchial asthma.
Without a doubt, the ban on smoking is one of the important recommendations of the allergist-immunologist to his patients with asthma. However, the attitude of adolescents to this recommendation is ambiguous and practically unrelated to the presence of the disease. Those of them who smoke, receive an important benefit in the form of pleasure, respect of peers, self-affirmation. They simply do not notice the negative consequences. Those guys who deliberately abandoned the addiction, consider it unattractive, not tasty and only in some cases really harmful to health.
The role of parents in the treatment of bronchial asthma in adolescents
The tactics of treatment of bronchial asthma in adolescents, in accordance with the clinical guidelines, does not differ from that in adults. It is a stepwise approach using different drugs depending on the severity of the manifestations. However, it is the lot of doctors to determine the severity and treatment regimen. But the role of parents in achieving control over asthma in a child is much more serious. The task of mom and dad is not only to acquire the necessary medicines, follow their regular intake, but also maintain a trusting relationship with a teenager. Try to be as sensitive as possible about the desire of a son or daughter to be on an equal footing with peers and at the same time convey to them the need for treatment.
Unfortunately, the parents themselves are not always well aware of the illness of their child. In order to eliminate gaps in knowledge, together with the child, they can contact an expert for examination and conversation, having warned in advance about a longer consultation time. Or visit a special school of bronchial asthma. At the same time, parents should not deny a teenager the desire to independently talk with the doctor on their own and ask him questions.
Teens tend to focus on the short-term results that they have here and now. If the environment requires to be healthy and strong, then the child will begin to hide or deny the symptoms of the disease. If you can earn respect among your peers by smoking, then he will go for it without thinking about the consequences. Unfortunately, asthma is a disease that does not like to be rejected and will make itself felt more severe in the future. To prevent this, treatment recommendations should be followed by both the child and his parents.