Asthma in Children

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Asthma in Children Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways ( Lehne, 2013 p. 958). It is characterized by recurrent episodes of airflow limitation which, depending on the severity of the attack, produce symptoms such as breathlessness, wheezing, chest tightness and cough (Holgate & Douglas, 2010). Asthma is more prevalent in children (10-15%) than in adults (5-10%); it is also more common in male children than females (Currie & Baker, 2012 p.1). Some children have been diagnosed with asthma as early as birth, however most are diagnosed around preschool age. The onset of an asthma attack may begin gradually or rapidly; the attack can be severe to the point of threating the child’s life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of the year 2012, 6.8 million children in the United States continue to suffer from asthma. Pathophysiology There are several parts involved in the pathophysiology of asthma, inflammation/obstruction of the airways and bronchial hyperresponsiveness. The most common trigger in children is being exposed to a specific allergen. Some examples are cigarette smoke, pollen, dust, or chemicals from the environment. When an allergen enters the small/sensitive airways of children with asthma, initiation of immune response occurs. The airways respond by constricting in an attempt to limit the exposure to the allergen. The T-Helper cells are activated which then release T-helper 2 cytokines. One of the cytokines released that is significant to asthma is the IL-4 cytokine; IL-4 stimulates B-cell activation, proliferation and production of antigen-specific IgE (McCance et al., 2010 p. 1283). The inhaled allergen (antigen) sticks to the IgE on the mast cell which then causes the mast cells to degranulate and release mediators such as histamine, leukotrienes, prostaglandin D2, platelet-activating factor, and others

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