Parent’s Guide for Children With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Updated at: Dec 14, 2020
Parent’s Guide for Children With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Children exposed to passive smoking are prone to developing COPD in adult life. Read this and more below

Vani Malik
Other DiseasesWritten by: Vani MalikPublished at: Dec 10, 2020

COPD or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease makes it difficult to breathe. COPD occurs when long-term damage to the lungs makes it difficult to breathe since the walls between the air sacs of the lungs become weak and may collapse, especially those who used to or are current smokers. But, If you thought this is only common in adults, then you should read this article on COPD in Kids and its management tips for parents by Dr Praveen Khilnani, Clinical Director & Senior Consultant, Paediatrics, Paediatric Pulmonology and Critical Care, Madhukar Rainbow Children's Hospital. Kids in their initial years are extremely prone to breathing disorders due to their immunity levels. Hence, the need for parents is to look for proper care tips to manage the condition in kids, especially those with a severe breathing condition.

What Happens In COPD In Kids?

“When the child faces difficulty in breathing, has a bad cough or has wheezing sound coming from their throat, then that has to be asthma. As we all know, asthma is a chronic lung infection or even a hereditary disease affecting lungs by the production of thick mucus which blocks the airways. This also exposes the lungs to chronic infection and further lung damage. Such symptoms may also be due to exposure to cigarette smoke (secondary smoke), air pollution or other irritants. Research has proven that children with asthma or other lung problems have a greater chance of developing COPD in adult life”, says Dr Praveen Khilnani, Clinical Director & Senior Consultant, Paediatrics, Paediatric Pulmonology and Critical Care.


Also Read: What is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)? Causes, Signs, Risk Factors And Preventive Measures

What Are the Stages Of COPD In Kids?

COPD can be categorised in the following stages – Early, Moderate, Severe and Very SevereSome indicative signs of the disease are:

  • Short breath while doing physical activities.
  • Wheezing.
  • Chest tightness.
  • Chronic cough which can be clear, white, yellow or greenish
  • Frequent respiratory infections.
  • Lack of energy.
  • Sudden weight loss (in later stages)

What Leads To the Occurrence of COPD In Kids?

Prevalence of co-occurrence of COPD diagnosis in parents and offspring with Intergenerational associations in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have been well recognised. This may result from genetic, gene-environment or exposure to lifestyle factors. Studies have shown that parents who have a preterm birth, children with low birth weight, parents exposed to tobacco exposure in uterine, children with respiratory diseases, primarily asthma and pneumonia, in children can give way to lung problems in later childhood. Children exposed to smoke around them also have a negative impact on the lungs, which can develop as COPD in adulthood. Most children develop asthma symptoms before 5 years. Asthma can be difficult to diagnose in toddlers. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between asthma or another childhood condition as the symptoms in both cases are very similar.


A child who has frequent bouts of cold wheezes respiratory infections can have asthma if

  • The parent is asthmatic
  • Signs of allergies are spotted in the child has signs of allergies which can be eczema
  • the child wheezes almost all the time

How To Manage Breathing Issues (Asthma) In Kids?

“Children with asthma should carry inhalers with them. Parents and schools should ensure clean air for children. Schools and homes should have clean and healthy air. Parents should also be cautious of not smoking during pregnancy”, suggests Dr Praveen Khilnani. COPD can be diagnosed with Lung function tests and CT scans. COPD incidence is found to be the highest among children with both asthma and pneumonia in childhood. Care should be taken to treat these diseases in children. In most cases, asthma in children is cured in adults. However, children who have weak lungs develop COPD in later adult lives. Study shows that 11% of children with severe asthma had COPD as young adults, and 3 out of 4 children with persistent asthma have low lung function by their early 20s. Usually, boys with asthma have a higher incidence of low lung function capability than girls.


How To Manage Severe Asthma In Kids?

“If a child has severe asthma, doctors recommend a spirometry test to be taken annually. It checks how much air you can breathe in and out, and how fast you can exhale air from your lungs,” says Dr Khilnani. COPD can’t be cured, but timely care can help keep your lungs working well for as long as possible. Smoking plays a very active role in developing COPD, so active smoking as well as passive smoking should be avoided for such patients. Being alert about the symptoms of COPD also helps a lot to treat this at an early stage”, says Dr Praveen Khilnani.

Also Read: 7 Tips To Prevent COPD During Winters

Listed below are some tips to manage COPD/severe asthma in kids:

  • The right diet matters: Make your kids eat healthy food with all necessary vitamins and nutrients, including fats and carbohydrates too. Give your kids balanced meals with all necessary good groups to ensure that their immunity is not compromised due to lack of proper nutrition.
  • Proper rest is a must: Do not let your kids nap in between so that they sleep better during bedtime. Also, keep their bedroom dark and cosy and do not give them any form of caffeine like cold coffee after sunset to not disturb their sleep cycle.
  • Timely medication is essential: Do not forget to give your kids the needed medicine. Keep in touch with the doctor to know if any changes are required in the dosage, especially during seasonal changes. In some cases, you must also make your kids introduced to oxygen therapy for easy breathing.
  • Do not keep the mucus in: When coughing, do not try to keep the mucus in, and spit it out in sink and rinse your mouth. Ensure that you teach your kids to do this properly, especially not in public spaces or on the roads.


Read more articles on Other Diseases


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