Asthma in Children
- What makes a child more likely to develop asthma?
- Why are more children getting asthma?
- How can I tell if my child has asthma?
- How is asthma diagnosed in children?
- What is the treatment for asthma in kids?
- What asthma drugs can children take?
- How do I give my child asthma medication?
- How do I know when my child's asthma is well controlled?
- Will my child outgrow asthma?
- What do I do when my child has an asthma attack?
- Patient Comments: Asthma in Children - Symptoms
- Find a local Pediatrician in your town
Asthma is the leading cause of chronic illness in children. It affects as many as 10%-12% of children in the U.S. and, for unknown reasons, is steadily increasing. It can begin at any age, but most children have their first symptoms by age 5.
What makes a child more likely to develop asthma?
There are many risk factors for developing childhood asthma. These include:
- Presence of allergies
- Family history of asthma and/or allergies
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Low birth weight
- Exposure to tobacco smoke before and/or after birth
- Being male
- Being black
- Being raised in a low-income environment
Why are more children getting asthma?
No one really knows why more and more children are developing asthma. Some experts suggest that children are being exposed to more and more allergens such as dust, air pollution, and second-hand smoke. These factors all are triggers of asthma. Others suspect that children are not exposed to enough childhood illnesses to build up their immune system. It appears that a disorder of the immune system where the body fails to make enough protective antibodies may play a role in causing asthma.
And still others suggest that decreasing rates of breastfeeding have prevented important substances of the immune system from being passed on to babies.
How can I tell if my child has asthma?
Signs and symptoms to look for include:
- Frequent coughing spells, which may occur during play, at night, or while laughing. It is important to know that cough may be the only symptom present.
- Less energy during play
- Rapid breathing
- Complaint of chest tightness or chest "hurting"
- Whistling sound (wheezing) when breathing in or out
- See-saw motions (retractions) in the chest from labored breathing
- Shortness of breath, loss of breath
- Tightened neck and chest muscles
- Feelings of weakness or tiredness
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Frequent headaches
- Loss of appetite
Keep in mind that not all children have the same asthma symptoms, and these symptoms can vary from asthma episode to the next episode in the same child. Also note that not all wheezing or coughing is caused by asthma.
In kids under 5 years of age, the most common cause of asthma-like symptoms is upper respiratory viral infections such as the common cold.
If your child has problem breathing, take him or her to the doctor immediately for an evaluation.
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