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Signs of asthma in teenagers and adults

Signs of asthma in teenagers and adults useful guide book

Darren’s asthma was diagnosed when he was seven. Until he was twelve or thirteen, his signs of asthma was well controlled. He followed a daily routine of taking his controller medicine twice a day. It became a mechanical event, like dressing in the morning and undressing at night. He and his family knew certain triggers to avoid, and they kept his room fairly clean and dust free. Darren rarely had flare. But by ninth grade, he began to wheeze frequently, especially at night. His parents noticed that he was using his quick-relief inhaler more often. When Darren was due for a routine physical exam, they urged him to tell his doctor about the change in his symptoms.

Signs of asthma in teenagers and adults useful guide book
Signs of asthma in teenagers and adults useful guide book

Signs of asthma causes Darren’s body was growing, but his increasing symptoms had more to do with becoming an adolescent than as a result of any physical changes. He was “just being a teenager,” and that behavior altered how he managed his asthma. Darren became careless about taking his controller medicine as he stuffed homework in his backpack and dashed for the school bus in the mornings. At night, he often fell asleep in his clothes before remembering to take his medicine. He was out and about with friends more often, hiking through the woods, trying a cigarette once in a while, visiting homes of classmates who had dogs and cats, hanging out in their damp basement rec rooms, . . . all typical preteen activities, but in settings where asthma triggers thrived so Signs of asthma will increase.

As any child with a chronic condition enters adolescence, parents need to look at the Signs of asthma broad picture—what it means to be a typical teenager. An adolescent with asthma goes through the same emotional, social, and developmental changes that occur with all teenagers. Those changes will influence the way he deals with his disease. So let’s look at the background first of Signs of asthma.

Adolescence is the period of transition between childhood and adulthood with Signs of asthma, but it isn’t bracketed by rigid starting and ending dates. No child suddenly becomes a teenager on his thirteenth birthday or graduates from adolescence on his eighteenth. Adolescence can start anytime after age ten, and some young people become responsible and independent earlier than eighteen, the legal age of adulthood. Others continue to have adolescent behaviors into their twenties or thirties. Adolescents are at an age when they become more aware of themselves as individuals, try to figure out where they fit in society, and continue to gain the skills they need to become adults. They want to become more independent from parents. They are concerned about peer acceptance as they grow away from their immediate families and develop a second “family” of friends and classmates. During this period, teenagers develop a new interest in their bodies as well with Signs of asthma.

A major characteristic of adolescents is their focus on short-term outcomes; long-term goals and consequences are fuzzy. They think in concrete, immediate terms and are not yet completely able to think abstractly. For this reason, teenagers usually don’t worry about long-term health issues of Signs of asthma. For example, if you tell teens that smoking is bad for their health because it increases their risk of heart disease and cancer in thirty to forty years, you’ll get a blank stare. But tell them that smoking stains their teeth, makes their hair and clothes reek, and makes their breath smell bad, and they are more likely to listen because these con-sequences are immediate and concrete of Signs of asthma.

If a teenager like Darren is having asthma symptoms, he’ll reach for a quick-relief inhaler because he lives in the here and now he wants immediate relief That’s concrete thinking. But because he’s not thinking abstractly about longer-term consequences, he doesn’t appreciate the importance of taking controller medicines when he feels well. The result is that he becomes sloppy about taking it regularly.

Adolescents usually want more independence, although they’re selective about what they want to be responsible for Signs of asthma. Most teenagers want to choose their own clothes, for instance, but may not want the responsibility of paying for them. It’s hardly front-page news to say that adolescents tend to rebel against “non peer” authority—such as adults who admonish them to be more responsible about taking their medicine.

As physical changes occur in adolescence and Signs of asthma, parents also need to keep in mind that changing hormone levels often trigger new behaviors. Teenagers are more prone to risk taking behaviors and are sensitive to peer pressure as well. Just keep in mind that these are all normal developmental stages as you nudge your adolescent toward greater independence and responsibility of Signs of asthma.

Many characteristics of adolescence can work against a teenager with a chronic disease like Signs of asthma. For example, he may fear that having asthma will make him less acceptable to his friends and peers. The need to take daily medicine often makes a teenager feel “different” at a time when it is critically important to fit in and be like other adolescents. (If you don’t believe how teenagers desperately want to be like their peers, just walk through a mall and notice how they dress, walk, and talk alike.) This attitude can lead a teenager to deny that he has asthma or deny the need for daily medicine. Even if he knows and accepts the need for medicine, he may be unwilling to accept the responsibility to take it independently. Although parents, doctors, and nurses recommend that he take controller medicine every day, he may reject the advice simply because it comes from adults. It’s common for a teen with Signs of asthma to decide he doesn’t need medicines any longer. When reminded to take medicine, he may resent parental “interference,” ignore it, or not follow through.

At the same time, an adolescent is very aware of the impact of symptoms on his life when asthma flares or is uncontrolled. Coughing can result in unwanted attention —”I hate it when all my classmates turn around and look at me!” Or he may not be able to be as active as he would like. He may get winded quickly on the basketball court and need to sit on the bench, or he may miss school because coughing has kept him awake for several nights and he’s exhausted. Teens often become frustrated and depressed when asthma symptoms limit their activities or make them feel different from their peers.

Everyone’s goal

It is easy for parents and health professionals to become frustrated with a teenager who is bothered by symptoms yet does not take medicines that will control the disease. Adolescents, parents, and health care professionals all need to work together toward the common goal getting the teenager to manage her disease independently. This means that she becomes responsible for taking daily medicine, recognizing symptoms, and using quick-relief medicines when appropriate. Like adolescence itself, this is a process that may take as long as a few years.

The key to achieving this goal is addressing teens on a common level. Just as adults don’t like to follow orders without understanding why they should do so, adolescents are not likely to do something just because an adult “says so.” Adults can use teenagers’ natural curiosity about their bodies as an opportunity to teach them what Signs of asthma is and how they can control their disease. Keep in mind that teens want more control over their lives, so capitalize on that desire in motivating them to assume more responsibility for controlling their asthma.

Three key steps can help parents guide teenagers toward increasing responsibility. They are acceptance, motivation, and action. These three steps can set the stage for an adolescent to realize that he has a basic choice he can control his asthma or let it control him.

Acceptance

Acceptance The first step is to help adolescents accept that they have asthma. Ask your teen what she thinks about having asthma. Help her understand what the disease is, the symptoms it causes, and how it’s diagnosed. Health professionals and educational materials can supply the information that a teenager needs in order to accept that she has asthma. You might look for a teen asthma education program in your community. If you don’t know of one, ask your asthma care specialist. Teens are often more receptive to learning about asthma from peer groups than from parents or other adults.

Signs of asthma in teenagers and adults
Signs of asthma in teenagers and adults

Motivation

The next step involves getting your teenager to take more control and responsibility for himself But how? Lecturing will only fall on deaf ears, so try to engage your teen in a discussion of asthma based on facts, not emotional threats (such as, “If you don’t remember your inhaler, you’ll end up in the ER again!”) or shame (“It’s your fault you’re wheezing because you didn’t take your medicine!”). Try to stay cool when discussing asthma. Instead of preaching, try to engage your teen in some problem solving by asking brief questions such as, “What will happen if your asthma kicks up when you’re in school?”

Rather than doling out ready-made solutions, ask your teenager to come up with some answers himself. You might say something like, “What can I do to help without being a nag?” Or, “I know that having asthma can be a daily hassle, as well as life threatening. It’s important for me to know you’re doing everything you can to keep it under control. That’s why I remind you to take your controller medicines. But I want you to tell me how you want me to remind you.” Or ask him to suggest some subtle prompts that serve as reminders for taking medicine—but don’t let these prompts turn into nagging, and don’t embarrass him with reminders in front of his friends. If you encourage a teenager to come up with his own solutions, he will be more motivated to follow through because he has had some active input.

Actions for Signs of asthma

The third step action simply takes motivation one step further. Once a teenager is motivated to take more control and responsibility, she needs to know what to do—what precise action to take. That means learning symptom recognition, how to prevent symptoms, and what to do if a flare occurs. She should be encouraged to take note of when she coughs, wheezes, or experiences labored breathing or chest tightness. Ask her to think about how these symptoms affect her daily life—for example, coughing while watching a movie with friends or needing to stop playing a sport because of shortness of breath. Be sure she understands her asthma management plan and how to use it.

Another part of the “action” phase involves getting her to choose the time that she takes controller medicines. It often helps to have the therapy linked to an established daily behavior, such as getting in and out of bed or brushing teeth. Teens can also take on the responsibility of keeping track of the medicine supply and ordering refills when appropriate. Each teenager will progress through this three-step process at a different pace, and it is important to provide support and reassurance while reinforcing the importance of adherence and asthma control.

Special considerations of Signs of asthma

Three special considerations affect teenagers with Signs of asthma. The first is exercise-induced asthma, as discussed in former article. During the teenage years, this issue may have a significant impact on the development of future exercise habits. In other words, if exercise triggers asthma symptoms,Signs of asthma, they can and should be controlled so that a teen with asthma is able to exercise and enjoy physical activities and sports as much as any other adolescent. It should not be an excuse to sit on the sidelines, which could lead to an unnecessarily sedentary life as an adult. The time to establish regular exercise as a healthy lifelong habit is now.

Teenagers with Signs of asthma should be carefully monitored for any symptoms that occur while exercising. If the symptoms are preventing participation in athletic activities, the therapy probably needs to be changed so the symptoms are better controlled. This may mean changing the medicines or adding medicines before exercise or sports activities. Ask your physician or nurse practitioner about your teen’s specific situation.

A second consideration is smoking. Teenagers should receive counseling about exposure to tobacco smoke. Because smoking usually starts during adolescence, it is very important for teens with asthma to realize the “double risks” of tobacco use: (1) it makes the asthma more difficult or impossible to control, and (2) it increases long-term risks, such as emphysema, lung cancer, and heart disease. Though it’s often over-looked, teenagers should also understand the importance of avoiding secondhand smoke from their friends who use tobacco.

The third consideration affects girls. Asthma can be especially bad for females entering adolescence. For reasons that are poorly understood, girls experiencing hormonal changes often encounter worsening asthma symptoms. In fact, puberty and adolescence are a peak time for asthma diagnosis in young women. It is not unusual for girls in their teens to be diagnosed with asthma for the first time, and adolescent girls with Signs of asthma often require an increase in their controller medicines.

For a teenager with asthma, the formidable period of adolescence can be more challenging than for teens without chronic diseases. Parents and health care professionals need to be patient and understanding and tailor their approach to each individual adolescent on the journey into adulthood. If adults support teenagers in becoming more mature and responsible for managing their disease, they can help young people enjoy the pleasures of adolescence with fewer symptoms and greater control of Signs of asthma.

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