Asthma is the most common chronic disorder among American children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the respiratory disease affects 6.2 million children under age 18.
And while many of the stimuli that can trigger an asthma attack -- including sudden temperature change, pollen and respiratory infections -- cannot be avoided, some can.
In fact, parents can go far in preventing asthma attacks in their children with hearty doses of common sense.
For example, if you're a smoker with an asthmatic child, then quit, health professionals urge. The American Lung Association estimates that 200,000 to 1 million asthmatic children have their condition worsened by exposure to secondhand smoke.
An asthma episode is a series of events that results in narrowed airways, which can be caused by swelling of the lining, tightening of the muscle and increased secretion of mucus in the airway. The narrowed airway is responsible for the difficulty in breathing that creates the familiar "wheeze."
Asthma is characterized by excessive sensitivity of the lungs to various stimuli. Triggers range from viral infections to allergies, to irritating gases and particles in the air.
While the disease cannot be prevented, it can be controlled. Therefore, make sure your asthmatic child follows his or her medication regimen. The ALA says that in recent years, asthma-related mortalities and hospitalizations have decreased as asthma prevalence has stabilized -- probably due to better disease management.
And the ALA says that if your child is asthmatic, know what asthma triggers are unique to him or her. Monitor your child's activities if exercise or stress triggers his or her asthma. Other culprits include dust, animal dander, cockroaches, mold and certain foods.
Also, researchers at the University College London say that simple breathing and relaxation techniques can reduce respiratory symptoms and irregular breathing among asthma patients.
Elizabeth Holloway, physiotherapist and lead author of the study, says that people under stress should relax their shoulders and breathe calmly from the abdomen area, rather than breathing from their upper chest. Holloway says normally people should breath gently, not deeply, through the nose. Still, she cautions, that such techniques are not to take the place of asthma medications.
The Los Angeles Times contributed to this article.