Monday, February 17, 2014
What are the risks of asthma in boys?
Risks of Asthma in Boys
Most evidence suggests boys are more likely to be diagnosed with asthma than girls, and they are also more likely to die of an asthma attack. Why is this, and what does it mean for parents?
What is the evidence?
According to a September, 2012, report by the American Lung Association (ALA), 7.1 million children had asthma in 2011, with the highest prevalence being between the ages of 5-11. The report showed that boys were 16 percent more likely to develop asthma than girls.
The American and Allergy Foundation of America notes on its website a government survey of young people between 1980 and 1993 that revealed the following:
"Although asthma can occur in people of any age, even in infants, most children with the illness developed it by about age 5. Asthma seems to be more common in boys than in girls in early childhood. (The government survey) showed that in 1993, boys aged 0-4 were 1.4 times more likely than girls the same age to die from asthma. This increased risk remained in boys aged 5-14, who were 1.3 times more likely to die from asthma than girls in that age group. By the teen years, the risk seems to even out between girls and boys."
Why is asthma harder on boys?
Why asthma is harder on boys than girls remains a mystery, although one theory suggests that the lungs of boys are less fully developed, and their air passages smaller, than the lungs of girls.
Another theory suggests boys tend to be more into sports, or more likely to play in areas that are dirty, increasing their exposure to mold, dust, and other such asthma triggers.
What does this mean?
What this means is that it is highly probable that the lungs of boys are more sensitive than the lungs of girls.
It means that parents of boys must become well educated about asthma, and this can be accomplished through various websites like this, or by reading books and magazine articles.
It means that parents must create an environment for their asthmatic child that is conducive to good asthma control.
What action should be taken?
Asthmatic boys and their parents should create an asthma journal (a simple notebook will work), keeping track every day of asthma symptoms, peak flow values, and medicine usage.
This will you and your child's pediatrician recognize trends of worsening asthma, and patterns of when asthma is worse. For instance, perhaps you'll learn that his asthma is worse in the springtime when pollen counts are high, or his asthma is worse at night, or his asthma is worse when exercising.
The next task will be to improve asthma control. This can be done by learning what is triggering asthma (dust mites, food allergies, cockroach urine, molds, dog and cat allergies) and getting these things under control.
If that doesn't work, a pediatrician may recommend the daily use of asthma controller medicines. If this is necessary, parents will need to make sure the child is taking his medicine exactly as recommended.
These actions will usually result in better asthma control. If patterns of worsening asthma continue to exist, these can be dealt with during subsequent doctor visits. For example, if his asthma continues to get worse during the pollen season, his doctor may suggest stepping up treatment prior to the pollen season. If his asthma continues to get worse while exercising, his doctor may suggest taking medicine just prior to exercise to prevent this from happening.
Conclusion: While the statistics can be concerning, boys with asthma can still live a normal life without worrying too much about their disease. This is because asthma is a disease that can be controlled. It will take some effort on the part of the parents, but it can be done.