Asthma in Children
Asthma affects approximately 25 million Americans each year, but did you know that over 5 million of those affected are children? It’s the most common chronic lung disease in children. It’s also one of the top causes for children missing school days and is responsible for 50 billion dollars in annual healthcare expenditures.
Asthma most often begins in childhood before the age of five. Young children have very small and narrow bronchial tubes, so it can be difficult to recognize if their symptoms are due to asthma or other common illnesses that can inflame airways, like chest colds.
Asthma symptoms in children include consistent coughing, particularly at night, frequent chest colds, trouble breathing, wheezing or whistling sounds while breathing, or many short fast breaths in succession that are not caused by physical exertion.
What Causes Asthma in Children?
Unfortunately, we still don’t know exactly what causes asthma, but there are some factors that can determine if a child is more at risk to develop asthma, such as genetics. If the parents or grandparents have asthma, it’s more likely to show up in their children.
Asthma is more likely to develop in African American and Puerto Rican children than other races. Children with other conditions like allergies, obesity, or respiratory issues are also more at risk to develop asthma.
What is the Difference Between Asthma in Children and Adults?
There are some significant differences between asthma conditions depending on whether it manifests during childhood or as an adult. One of the largest differences is that adult-onset asthma tends to have persistent symptoms, while symptoms for children are often intermittent. This often results in different treatment methods. Children may only need medication when they have an asthma attack, while adults often need daily medication to keep the asthma symptoms at bay.
Another difference is that childhood-onset asthma is more common in males, while adult-onset asthma is more common in females. This is partially because asthma in young boys is more likely to develop at a young age. Meanwhile, young girls are less likely to develop asthma, but girls are more likely to develop asthma after puberty than boys. Some studies have suggested that hormonal changes in women can contribute to the start of asthma. Boys are also more likely to have asthma enter remission as they reach puberty and beyond than girls.
This highlights another key difference between childhood-onset asthma and adult-onset asthma: the likelihood of remission. Asthma remission is somewhat common in children, with one study showing that nearly half of all children diagnosed with asthma before the age of six were in remission by age 12. Adults with asthma may have periods of remission, but individuals with adult-onset asthma are much more likely to have persistent life-long symptoms.
How is Gut Health Connected to Asthma?
You may not think that a respiratory condition would have any kind of direct connection to gut health, but it does. This probably isn’t surprising if you’ve read a few of our other blogs, as it seems like nearly every health condition can be tied back to gut health in some way. In the case of asthma in children, gut health is important for a few reasons.
Gut health is yet another factor that can play into a child’s risk to develop asthma. Research has shown that children with asthma tend to have higher numbers of bad bacteria like Clostridium than children without asthma. In general, children with healthier and more diverse gut microbiota are less likely to develop asthma than children with unhealthy gut microbiota.
Bacteria in the gut release chemical messengers. If they are more pro-inflammatory in nature, they will perpetuate certain pathways in the body. Good bacteria will release good chemical messengers that allow your immune system and your respiratory system to function at their peaks. Bad bacteria will release bad chemical messengers that can lead to inflamed airways or a weakened immune system. A healthy gut can both minimize likelihood and of developing asthma and reduce the severity of asthma symptoms.
Asthma has also been associated with leaky gut syndrome, a condition in which the gut barrier is broken down, allowing substances that are normally kept out of the body by the gut barrier to enter. Poor gut health leads to a damaged gut barrier, which leads to more unwanted substances crossing through the gut and into the bloodstream. This is associated with autoimmune conditions and increased likelihood to develop conditions like asthma.
Can Probiotics Help with Asthma in Children?
We’ve now established that gut health is tied to asthma. We’ve also talked many times about how important good bacteria are for gut health. Probiotics can provide your gut with the good bacteria that it needs to stay healthy.
This means that probiotics can at least indirectly help with asthma by improving gut health, but we also have studies showing that certain strains of probiotics are able to positively affect asthma in children more directly as well. Some studies have shown reduced severity of symptoms in children with asthma, while other studies have demonstrated fewer asthma episodes in children supplementing with probiotics than in children without probiotic supplementation.
Studies have shown that strains like L. rhamnosus, B. breve, and L. gasseri have all demonstrated success in helping with asthma by reducing allergen-induced airway inflammation. B. breve does this through anti-inflammatory properties that are similar to budesonide, a steroid medication commonly used in inhaler form to treat chronic asthma.
L. salivarius has also demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties for reducing the severity of asthma symptoms. It does so by decreasing the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines that cause inflammation in the body.
Do You Have a Child Suffering from Asthma? Probonix Can Help
Probonix probiotics contain several of the most effective probiotic strains for improving gut health and improving asthma symptoms. Start improving your child’s gut health today with Probonix!