Stress is one of the major causes of sickness, not only among adults but also children. According to a study, stressful days could make kids more prone to nightly asthma attacks.

A study headed by Dr. Caroline Horner from the Department of Pediatrics at the Washington University School of Medicine and St. Louis Children's Hospital, Missouri revealed that kids who experience stressful days have an increased risk of experiencing nocturnal asthma.

The study involved 46 children with asthma, along with their caregivers, who were tracked down for 12 weeks. The children were asked to complete a questionnaire that sought to know how their day was and what they felt for the duration of the day.

The children responded by selecting from "good," "very good," "bad" and "very bad." The part where they needed to rate their feelings was filled by encircling either "happy" or "sad."

The caregivers also answered a 42-item questionnaire that sought to know the nighttime awakening of the children due to asthma or other causes.

"The global question was really how was your day, based on things that would happen routinely that might add up to being stressful," said Horner.

The researchers also looked into the medications used by the children for their asthma such as prednisone and albuterol. Data on school absences, physician's visits and personal information on family, job and finances were also provided by the caregivers.

After 12 weeks of tracking and analyzing the responses of the children and their caregivers, the researchers found that 60 percent of the kids who participated in the study had episodes of nighttime awakening caused by asthma while 80 percent had at least one episode of nighttime awakening due to other causes.

The results of the study found that those kids who reported to use asthma controller more frequent had experienced more episodes of nighttime awakening.

The children also reported an overall "good" and "very good" day and only 2 percent of the days were reported to be "very bad." Nocturnal asthma, regardless of the drugs taken within the day, was reported to have occurred on the days rated to be "bad," "very bad" and "good."

The study also revealed that children who had nocturnal asthma on the previous night and had taken either prednisone or albuterol had more days of absences and visits to their pediatrician compared to other weekdays.

"If you rated your day as anything other than very good, you were twice as likely to awaken with asthma symptoms," said Horner.

Kids waking up at night due to asthma may have experienced stress, which may then activate a steroid responsible for "mast cells" or immune cells in the lungs. These cells release histamines, triggering an allergic-reaction-like response.

The study was published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Photo: Ben Francis | Flickr

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