Few things are scarier than watching your child wheeze and pant due to asthma, an inflammatory disease of the lungs that is very common in children.
Approximately 25 million Americans have asthma and about 1 in every 10 children in the United States has asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Backention .
The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology states that asthma is the most common chronic illness in childhood, accounting for 13.8 million missed school days each year. It also accounts for 14.2 million lost work days for adults .
In children suffering from asthma, the lungs and airways become easily inflamed when exposed to triggers like inhaling airborne pollen or catching a cold or another respiratory infection.
The underlying cause of asthma in children is not fully known. However, an overly sensitive immune system has a major role.
Some other factors that can lead to this condition are some types of airway infections at a very young age and exposure to environmental factors like cigarette smoke or other air pollutants. Also, a family history of asthma or obesity can increase the risk of developing asthma at an early age.
Common asthma symptoms in children are frequent coughing, a whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling, shortness of breath, chest congestion and chest pain (particularly in younger children).
Other symptoms may include trouble sleeping, bouts of coughing or wheezing that get worse with a respiratory infection, delayed recovery or bronchitis after a respiratory infection, and fatigue.
Symptoms vary from child to child and may get worse or better over time.
Seeing your child suffering from asthma can be very painful, as the symptoms can interfere with play, sports, school and sleep. All these elements can have a huge impact on your child’s growth, both physically and mentally.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for asthma. But with the right home treatment and lifestyle changes, it is possible to keep symptoms under control, improve your child’s quality of life and prevent damage to his growing lungs.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for asthma in children.
1. Control Asthma Triggers
As asthma in children is triggered by certain factors, it is important to be aware of the triggers and avoid them as much as possible. This is one of the most important steps in controlling asthma attacks.
Common asthma triggers in children are:
- Colds or other respiratory infections.
- Allergens, such as dust mites or pollen.
- Pet dander.
- Cold weather.
- Mold and dampness.
- Cockroach exposure.
- Cigarette smoke and other irritants in the air.
- Severe heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD).
Triggers vary from child to child, so you need to work with your child’s doctor to identify their specific triggers. Once you are aware of them, it becomes easy to make an action plan regarding how you can help your child avoid them.
A very well-known herb used for treating asthma in children is ginger. It has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce airway inflammation and inhibit airway contraction.
A 2008 study published in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology shows that ginger inhibits airway contraction and aids in treating respiratory illnesses like asthma .
According to a 2013 study presented at the American Thoracic Society’s International Conference, several compounds in ginger may help relax smooth muscle tissue in the airways, which is constricted during asthma attacks. However, further studies are still required .
- Make your child drink 2 to 3 cups of ginger tea daily. To make the tea, add 1 inch of ginger (cut into small pieces) to a pot of boiling water. Simmer for 10 minutes, strain it, allow it to cool, then give it to your child.
- Alternatively, mix equal amounts of ginger juice, pomegranate juice and honey. Give your child 1 tablespoon of this mixture 2 or 3 times a day.
- You can even give you child ginger candies.
Turmeric is another effective herb for preventing asthma attacks in children.
It contains the active ingredient curcumin, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound that helps fight asthma symptoms.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research reports that curcumin capsules help improve airway obstruction and are considered effective and safe as an add-on therapy for the treatment of bronchial asthma .
- Mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder into 1 cup of milk and boil it. Allow it to cool a bit, then give it to your child to drink twice daily.
- You can opt to give curcumin supplements to your child, only after consulting a doctor.
Honey is another natural cure for asthma. The alcohol and ethereal oils in honey help reduce asthma symptoms.
Honey soothes the mucous membranes in the airways. Mucus accumulation in the bronchial tubes is one of the causes of asthma symptoms.
It also helps fight coughing and the subsequent wheezing associated with asthma.
A 2014 study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found aerosolised honey to be effective in treating and managing asthma in rabbits. It could prove to be a promising treatment for asthma in humans. Future studies with a larger sample size are needed .
- Mix 1 teaspoon of organic honey into a glass of warm water. Give it to your child to drink 2 or 3 times a day.
- Also, mix ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder with 1 teaspoon of organic honey. Give it to your child right before bedtime.
Caution: Do not give honey to children younger than age 1, due to the risk of infant botulism.
5. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is effective for treating asthma. In fact, vitamin D deficiency may be at fault for asthma.
A 2016 study published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences found that the frequency of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency was higher in children with asthma, compared to the controls. Therefore, the study suggests that lower levels of vitamin D are associated with poor asthma control and increased asthma severity .
A 2017 study published in Cureus reports that vitamin D is of particular interest in asthma, due to its immunomodulatory effects .
Another study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine in 2017 found that vitamin D supplementation reduced the rate of asthma exacerbations requiring treatment with systemic corticosteroids overall .
- Taking vitamin D supplements is the easiest way to help your child get this important vitamin. Consult your child’s doctor for the right dosage.
- You can also make your child enjoy the sun for at least 10 minutes a day early in the morning, when the sunrays are not too harsh on the skin. This helps the body produce vitamin D.
- Also, include in your child’s diet foods fortified with vitamin D, such as orange juice, milk, yogurt, and almond milk fortified with vitamin D.
Garlic is also an effective cure for asthma attacks. Garlic can help treat asthma as well as reduce and cure symptoms associated with other respiratory ailments.
It can promote histamine breakdown and reduce the histamine released in the body. Histamine is known to promote inflammation in asthma sufferers.
Garlic also has vitamin C that helps neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules that cause the contraction of smooth muscles in the airways in asthma sufferers.
A 2008 study published in the Iranian Journal of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology suggests that aged garlic extract has the potential to attenuate inflammatory features of allergic airway inflammation in murine model .
- Just boil 2 cloves of garlic in ¼ cup of milk.
- Allow it to cool down to room temperature.
- Give it to your child to drink once daily.
Encourage your child to be active, as it is important for his overall growth. Regular physical activity can condition the lungs to work more efficiently, which helps reduce asthma symptoms.
- Before doing any exercise, make sure you child does a warm-up period.
- Gentle biking, moderate-to-brisk walking, and sports like golf, swimming, gymnastics, tennis and other racquet sports are good options. These exercises involve short and intermittent periods of exertion.
- Make your child exercise inside on very cold or very warm days. If your child exercises outside, make him wear a mask or scarf over the mouth.
- While exercising, ask your child to breathe through his nose instead of his mouth.
Caution: If your child suffers from exercise-induced asthma, do not over burden him.
Yoga is very effective when it comes to controlling asthma, as the breathing technique is important. The right breathing technique can help the lungs function properly. There are several yoga poses that can help cure breathing difficulty caused by asthma.
A 2009 study published in the International Journal of Yoga reports that breathing exercises (pranayama), mainly expiratory exercises, help improve lung functioning and should be a regular part of asthma treatment .
Another study published in the Cochrane Library in 2016 suggests that yoga may have a beneficial effect on symptoms and quality of life in people with asthma, but the effects on lung functioning and medication use are uncertain .
While there are different yoga poses for children suffering from asthma, there is one pose that children love to do. It is the Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana), which stimulates the heart and improves circulation in the entire body, including the lungs.
Do this yoga pose daily with your child to encourage them and soon you will notice the change in your child’s health.
To do the Butterfly Pose:
- Sit up straight with your legs spread straight out.
- Bend your knees and bring your feet inward.
- Place the soles of your feet together, about 6 inches away from your pelvis.
- Hold your feet tightly with your hands.
- Inhale deeply, pressing the thighs and knees down toward the floor.
- Taking normal breaths, start flapping both legs up and down.
- Start slowly and gradually increase the speed, continuing for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Slow down and then stop.
- Take a few long, deep breaths and slowly straighten your legs back out in front of you.
9. Air Quality
To reduce asthma attacks, you must pay attention to the air quality that your child is breathing. Extremely hot, humid weather and poor air quality can trigger symptoms in children. Also, avoid exposing your child to highly polluted areas, as it can trigger an asthma attack.
- Use an air conditioner in your child’s bedroom to lower indoor humidity and reduce airborne pollen from trees, grasses and weeds that finds its way indoors.
- Keep the windows and doors closed during pollen season.
- Consider installing a small-particle filter in your ventilation system.
- If you live in a damp climate, consider using a dehumidifier.
- If possible, move to a location where your child can enjoy fresh, dry air.
- Avoid exposing your child to varying temperatures within a short time.
10. Dietary Changes
A good diet is important for everyone, including children suffering from asthma. A diet high in vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, flavonoids, magnesium, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids is good for asthma patients.
- Include plenty of fresh and organic fruits and vegetables in your child’s diet.
- Give him more foods with omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, flaxseed and more.
- Include herbs and spices like sage, oregano, ginger and turmeric in your cooking.
- Avoid processed and packaged foods with artificial additives and preservatives.
- Avoid milk and dairy products if your child is allergic to milk proteins or is lactose intolerance.
- Avoid serving heavy and fatty meals, as they increase airway inflammation and inhibit relief provided by common asthma medications.
- Massage the chest with warm sesame oil to help loosen the phlegm deposited in the chest.
- Obesity is a major risk factor for developing asthma so avoid a diet high in calories that can lead to weight gain.
- As food allergies – the most common being peanuts, shellfish, eggs and milk – can trigger asthma attacks, you need to keep an eye on what your child is eating, especially when eating out.
- Don’t allow smoking around your child. Exposure to tobacco smoke is a common trigger of asthma attacks.
- If your child is allergic to dander, it’s best to avoid pets with fur or feathers.
- If you have a pet at home, regularly bathing or grooming your pet also may reduce the amount of dander in the surroundings.
- Keep others informed about your child’s problem to help manage asthma.
- Vital Signs. Centers for Disease Control and Backention. https://www.cdc.gov/VitalSigns/Asthma/index.html. Published May 03, 2011.
- Asthma Facts. ACAAI Public Website. https://acaai.org/news/facts-statistics/asthma. Published June 13, 2018.
- Ginger attenuates acetylcholine-induced contraction and Ca2+ signalling in murine airway smooth muscle cells. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18432287. Published May 2008.
- Ginger compounds may be effective in treating asthma symptoms, study suggests. ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130519145647.htm. Published May 19, 2013.
- Evaluation of Efficacy of Curcumin as an Add-on therapy in Patients of Bronchial Asthma. Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4190737. Published August 2014.
- Inhalation of honey reduces airway inflammation and histopathological changes in a rabbit model of ovalbumin-induced chronic asthma. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4048365. Published 2014.
- Effects of vitamin D levels on asthma control and severity in pre-school children. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26813450.
- A Review on the Role of Vitamin D in Asthma. Cureus. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5491340. Published May 29, 2017.
- Vitamin D supplementation to prevent asthma exacerbations: a systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanres/article/PIIS2213-2600(17)30306-5/fulltext.
- Purified aged garlic extract modulates allergic airway inflammation in BALB/c mice. Iranian Journal of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18780948. Published September 2008.
- The effect of various breathing exercises (pranayama) in patients with bronchial asthma of mild to moderate severity. International Journal of Yoga. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3017963. Published 2009.
- Yoga may have health benefits for people with asthma. ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160426215441.htm. Published April 26, 2016.