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Childhood Asthma

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Asthma has become has very serious problem among children in recent times. Many children with asthma develop symptoms before age 5.  If your child’s symptoms are caused by asthma, early diagnosis is important. Asthma treatment in children improves day-to-day breathing, reduces asthma flare-ups and helps reduce other problems caused by asthma. Asthma in children varies by age group. Infants, toddlers and 4-year-olds are diagnosed and treated differently than teens and adults are. Asthma in children also varies from child to child, and symptoms may get better or worse at certain times.

Most children with asthma have symptoms before they turn 5. In very young children, it may be hard for parents, and even doctors, to recognize that the symptoms are due to asthma. The bronchial tubes in infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers are already small and narrow, and head colds, chest colds and other illnesses can inflame these airways, making them even smaller and more irritated.

The symptoms of pediatric asthma can range from a nagging cough that lingers for days or weeks to sudden and scary breathing emergencies. Common symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Troubled breathing
  • A tight, uncomfortable feeling in the chest
  • Recurring bronchitis

If your child in an infant, you may notice slow feeding or shortness of breath during feeding. If your child is a toddler or older, you may notice a decreased desire to run and play due to breathlessness. Your son or daughter may become fatigued easily and cough when exercising. For many children under age 5, asthma attacks are triggered or worsened by colds and other respiratory infections. You may notice that your child’s colds last longer than they do in other children, or that signs and symptoms include frequent coughing that may get worse at night. Symptoms can also have a seasonal variation, which can be due to environmental allergies. Tobacco smoke commonly aggravates symptoms, and secondhand tobacco smoke is not only a risk factor for developing childhood asthma, but also complicates asthma control.

 

You can keep asthma symptoms at a minimum by using a written asthma action plan you develop with your child’s doctor to track symptoms and adjust treatment as for some children, severe asthma attacks can be life threatening and require emergency room treatments. Signs and symptoms of an asthma emergency in children under 5 years old include: gasping for air, breathing so hard that the abdomen gets sucked under the ribs, trouble speaking because of restricted breathing. For older children and adults, doctors can use breathing tests (lung function tests). As your child gets older, these tests may be used to help pinpoint an asthma diagnosis and track how well treatment’s working. Generally, children under age 5 aren’t able to do these tests.

About 75{c478bb159a3ffd2cf9a0d465504fe257d274e4492c7996716987ec7dff1da5ed} to 85{c478bb159a3ffd2cf9a0d465504fe257d274e4492c7996716987ec7dff1da5ed} of people with asthma have some type of allergy. Even if the main triggers are colds or exercise, allergies can sometimes play a minor role in making asthma worse. Kids inherit the tendency to have allergies from their parents. With any kind of allergy, the immune system overreacts to normally harmless allergens. An allergist can usually pinpoint allergies. Once they’re identified, the best treatment is to avoid exposure to them whenever possible, such by taking environmental control measures inside the home.

The severity of a child’s asthma symptoms will fall into one of four main categories of asthma, each with different characteristics and requiring different treatment approaches:

  1. Mild intermittent asthma
    A child who has brief episodes of wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath no more than twice a week is said to have mild intermittent asthma. Symptoms between flare-ups are rare, with one or two instances per month of mild symptoms at night.
  2. Mild persistent asthma
    Kids with episodes of wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath more than twice a week but less than once a day are said to have mild persistent asthma. Symptoms usually happen at least twice a month at night and flare-ups may affect normal physical activity.
  3. Moderate persistent asthma
    Kids with moderate persistent asthma have daily symptoms and need daily medicine. Nighttime symptoms happen more than once a week. Flare-ups occur more than twice a week, last for several days, and usually affect normal physical activity.
  4. Severe persistent asthma
    Kids with severe persistent asthma have symptoms continuously. They tend to have frequent flare-ups that may require emergency treatment and even hospitalization. Many kids with severe persistent asthma have symptoms at night and can handle only limited physical activity.

It is advised for a child to follow a custom asthma action plan. Even mild asthma should never be ignored because airway inflammation is present even in between flare-ups.

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