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Deal with eating habits
first.
Certain food are obvious triggers – cold
drinks, ice cream, cold water, deep fried
foods, very spicy foods can all trigger
cough, and subsequently, wheezing. In
addition, dairy products, and ready-to-
eat foods (potato chops, wafers, Pringles,
sauce, jam, jellies, cakes, pastries, burgers,
gums and mouth fresheners, noodles,
pasta, tinned food etc) contain coloring
agents, flavouring agents and preservatives
which may trigger an allergic response.
Some fruits may also trigger wheezing.
When the child has just started daily
inhaler treatment, he/ she has not yet
stabilized and hence, diet control is
especially crucial in the first few months.
After that the asthma may be sufficiently
controlled for the child to face triggers
in the food or environment occasionally
without experiencing an attack.
Hence, in the initial few months,
observing strict trigger control in food
and environment along with daily inhaler
treatment as advised, is very important in
preventing ‘breakthrough” attacks.
After a few months, under the doctor’s
advice and supervision, the restrictions
may be relaxed in a phased manner, few
foods at a time, to shortlist exactly those
which cause the triggers. Likewise, the
child may also be able to enjoy play and
exercise which is increased in a graded
manner.
A positive frame of mind can do wonders
for a chronic medical condition. Focus on
what you can give your child to eat instead
on what you cannot. Cannot have egg or
shrimp? OK, make some chicken or beef
instead. Not allowed to eat ice cream?
OK, make him a rich semolina pudding
with dried fruits and natural flavours like
cardamom, saffron and nutmeg instead.
Cannot have cakes and pastries? OK, make
him a nice eggless steamed or baked cake.
Cannot eat chocolates? OK, give your child
a yummy home-made ‘fudge’ of dried
apricots, walnuts, dates and pistachios
ground together. Not allowed udid dal or
chana dal? OK, make rava dosas, rava idlis
or aloo parathas instead. Not allowed ghee?
Use refined oil instead.
Innovation is the key here. Invent new
recipes, make the food more attractive
and also reward your child with little gifts
and greeting cards for complying with the
treatment. Express your appreciation of his /
her cooperation in front of family members
and relatives. Avoid negative statements and
complaining in front of your asthmatic child.
Exercise flexibility with
care.
Children are playful and can be boisterous
and can they certainly engage in their
normal play, while avoiding close contact
with pet animals, pollen and dusty areas.
A very young wheezer will regulate his /
her own activity level and is not of the age
to be eligible for formal sport like football,
cricket, swimming, karate, jogging, aerobics
or workouts so not much active restriction
is needed. Still, a hyperactive young
wheezer can be kept engaged indoors with
clay-modelling, origami, coloring books,
finger painting, puzzle books, video games
and hordes of other choices, which will not
cause too much physical exertion.
But in an older child, it may mean giving
up activities which the child liked doing
and enjoyed the company of his / her peers
while doing so. This can be a big blow to
a child of impressionable age, especially
when he / she has to suddenly explain his
/ her absence and then get labelled as an
asthmatic by his peers. This is how you can
deal with the problem:
• Explain your child that this restriction on
exercise is temporary and will be relaxed
after a while provided he / she complies
with the treatment plan and gets well
soon and will be able to get back to the
activity later
• Provide other avenues for keeping the
body fit – yoga, walks, stretch exercises,
indoor sports like table tennis, carom
etc, which will keep the young mind
stimulated and engaged and also provide
time to bond with peers
• Provide intellectual stimulation –
sudoku, crosswords, bridge, chess etc
• Encourage other activities of interest
– sketching, painting, photography,
singing, learning a play a musical
instrument, star gazing etc
Asthma is a chronic condition and current
medical knowledge allows for complete
control and a good quality of life and
normal growth - in childhood asthma,
the parent plays the most vital role in
translating the doctor’s advice into a
success story. May all children with asthma
enjoy their precious childhood and grow
up to tell on how they conquered the
condition!
H