A Taichung doctor on Wednesday warned parents with children who have asthma to avoid smoking around them after treating a boy who had an asthma attack after his father began smoking more at home.
The father was forced to take unpaid leave amid the COVID-19 pandemic and was therefore spending more time at home than usual, Taichung Tzu Chi Hospital Department of Pediatrics doctor Yu Meng-kung said.
The boy had stopped taking asthma medication about one year ago, as his condition had improved, but he was rushed to the hospital after a flare-up, Yu said.
Although the father had been smoking on the family’s balcony with the door closed, the smoke was entering the home through small openings in the door and windows, Yu said, adding that second-hand and third-hand smoke can trigger asthma.
The chemicals from lit cigarettes permeate the smoker’s clothes and surfaces in the home, and can be breathed in by others even if they were not directly exposed to the smoke, he said.
In people with asthma, inflammation of the respiratory tract can cause coughing, wheezing, chest pain and difficulty breathing, among other symptoms, Yu said.
If the symptoms are ignored, they could lead to damage to the pulmonary alveolus, an increase in mucus in the bronchial tube and a thickening of the muscles surrounding the bronchial tube, all of which obstruct the respiratory tract, he added.
Parents with children who have asthma are advised to seek treatment for their children as early as possible to avoid impeding the healthy development and functioning of the cardiopulmonary system, he said.
Parents should also pay close attention to how temperature differences between day and night affect their children, and keep living spaces free of air pollutants and dust, he said.
Smoking especially should be avoided around children, he said.