What Causes Childhood Asthma
Researchers continue to learn what causes asthma. It is not fully understood. The following things play a part:
Genetics. Asthma runs in families.
Allergies. Some allergies are more common in people with asthma. Allergies also tend to run in families.
Respiratory infections. Infants and young children who have some respiratory infections are more likely to have long-term lung problems.
Environmental factors. Irritants such as pollution and allergens are known to cause asthma.
Can A Child Outgrow Asthma
- Can a Child Outgrow Asthma?
At Bernstein Allergy Group in Cincinnati, many parents want to know if their child will outgrow their asthma condition. First, it is important to understand what asthma is, what causes it and how it is treated. Asthma is diagnosed in 3 million individuals each year, and it primarily begins during childhood. Some children have mild cases of asthma with breathing attacks that only occur occasionally while other children have severe asthma with multiple breathing attacks each day. The symptoms from asthma include:
- Chest pain
- Respiratory difficulties
A severe asthma attack is dangerous, leading to respiratory problems that require emergency treatment. Having asthma can make life difficult for a child and the childs parents. Children can have respiratory issues at any time of the day or night, and a young child will not understand the signs of an impending asthma attack. While older children will notice the early signs of an asthma attack, they may not understand how to use an inhaler that contains vital medication.
Researchers know that there are allergens that can trigger asthma attacks, including:
Each individual with asthma has different triggers, and these triggers can change. Keeping the environment clean with vacuuming, mopping and dusting can remove many allergens, and a parent can install an air purification system like HEPA filters to remove allergens from the home.
Why Does Asthma Seem Worse At Night
We have natural hormones in our bodies that help keep the airways open by reducing inflammation. At nighttime when you are sleeping, these hormones are normally at lower levels, allowing more inflammation in the airways and increasing asthma symptoms. If your child has regular asthma symptoms at night, it may mean their asthma is poorly controlled and you should make an appointment and discuss this with your doctor.
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Will My Child Outgrow Asthma
Predicting whether a child will outgrow asthma has important implications for patients, parents and doctors. Past studies have estimated between 15% to 64% of patients with childhood asthma go into remission by early adulthood. In those studies asthma remission rates have been noted to vary widely by population, and remission has been associated with less allergenic sensitization, milder initial asthma severity and male sex. Asthma remission commonly occurs by the ages of 14 to 21 years.
In a recent study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers determined which baseline characteristics could determine which children have a higher likelihood to outgrow asthma by adulthood.
The main conclusions from the study determined:
- 26% of patients with mild to moderate asthma had clinical remission of disease by early adulthood.
- Baseline airflow obstruction measured by spirometry was the greatest predictor of asthma remission. More than half the boys and 2/3 of the girls who performed greater than 90% on spirometry , were in remission by adulthood.
- Decreased airway responsiveness and lower serum eosinophil counts also were predictive of whether or not one will outgrow asthma.
Lung function measurements and serum eosinophil counts obtained in early childhood predict asthma remission in early adulthood. Pulmonary function testing should be performed in all patients with childhood asthma for clinical outcomes.
Letting Your Childs Childminder Nursery Or School Know
If anyone else cares for your child, make sure they know about your childs asthma and what they need to do if your child has symptoms. You could share your childs asthma action plan with them.
If your child is at school or nursery, its a good idea to have a spare reliever inhaler and spacer.
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Is There Any Way Of Altering The Course Of Asthma In Young Children
âItâs not really the case that intervention changes the course of asthma. But medicines have gotten so safe that we can pretty much neutralize symptoms indefinitely in the majority of people with asthma,â Johnson says. Uncontrolled asthma leads to emergency room visits, absenteeism from school, and missed opportunities for social and athletic interchange, he says.
Rachelefsky adds, âThe goal of asthma treatment is control of the disease to allow someone to have a normal life, knowing that it may not prevent the natural history of the disease. People should concentrate on the right diagnosis and treatment.â
Do Some Children Outgrow Asthma
Asthma symptoms that start in childhood can disappear later in life. Sometimes, however, a child’s asthma goes away temporarily, only to return a few years later. But other children with asthmaparticularly those with severe asthmanever outgrow it.
In young children, it can be hard to tell whether signs and symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath are caused by asthma or something else. Sometimes, what seems to be asthma turns out to be another condition, such as bronchitis, recurrent pneumonia or bronchiolitis. These and a number of other asthma-like conditions typically improve as children get older.
Children with more-severe asthma are less likely to outgrow it. Persistent wheezing and a history of allergies, especially to furry animals, also increase the odds that your child won’t outgrow asthma.
It’s important to diagnose and treat childhood asthma early on. Work with your child’s doctor to manage your child’s asthma. A written asthma action plan can help you track symptoms, adjust medications and help your child avoid asthma triggers. As your child gets older, involve him or her in the development of the action plan.
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Will Your Child Outgrow Asthma
Once a person’s airways become sensitive, they remain that way for life. About half of the children who have asthma have a noticeable decrease in symptoms by the time they become adolescentsâtherefore, appearing to have “outgrown” their asthma. However, about half of these children will develop asthma symptoms again in their 30s or 40s. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict whose symptoms will decrease during adolescence and whose will return later in life.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/01/2019.
Can You Grow Out Of Allergies
Allergies are fickle and hard to predict, sometimes popping up in childhood, sometimes not emerging until adulthood. Some allergies go away naturally over time others pester people for life. This is the case for all types, including indoor, industrial, insect, seasonal, skin, food, and medication allergies.
So, for parents wondering whether their kid will always be allergic to birch pollen, peanuts, or penicillin, the simple answer is that its TBD and impossible to know for sure.
There are certainly allergies that kids can outgrow, but its not always clear who outgrows them and who doesnt, Gaston says. There are also things we can do for kids, such as food allergy desensitization, seasonal allergy shots, or medications, that can help make their response to an allergen less.
Research shows about 80 percent of kids who are allergic to eggs, milk, wheat, and soy outgrow them by age 16, oftentimes much sooner.
All allergies involve the immune system recognizing a foreign compound, deeming it hazardous , and mounting an attack to protect the body. This prompts the production of antibodies called immunoglobin E, triggering the release chemicals that cause classic allergy symptoms like runny nose, watery eyes, scratchy throat, swelling, or hives. Severe allergic reactions can result in anaphylaxis, which can be deadly.
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My Child Is Not Experiencing Symptoms But Does That Mean Asthma Is Really Gone
No, if your child truly has asthma it never really goes away. The symptoms may have abated, the underlying inflammation and other components of the pathophysiology of asthma are still present. Unfortunately there is no easy test to help your doctor know if asthma is just there hiding under the surface. In fact the only way to easily do this would be to do a biopsy.
This would be overkill and few parents would likely agree to it anyway. As a parent you just need to be mindful of the symptoms of asthma, what to look for, and educating yourself as to what to do if the symptoms come back.
Which Age Group Gets Asthma The Most Often
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute or NHLBI, asthma is more prevalent in adults than children. Of 25+ million asthma patients in the United States, a much smaller portion are children, only seven million. That leaves 18 million adult cases.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology or AAAAI supports these findings. They noted that children with asthma in the US were about 8.3 percent of the population in 2016.
Now, there are certain risk factors that boost your chances of developing asthma. For instance, children who are six years old and have had a lifelong history of respiratory infections or wheezing have greater chances of getting asthma. Those who have a family history of the condition as well as other conditions such as eczema and allergies are also more prone to having asthma.
Obesity in adults can bump up the chances of asthmatic symptoms, the AAAAI reports from its own data. They reviewed people of different weight groups between 2011 and 2014. Of those, asthma rates were 7.8 percent in overweight patients, 7.1 percent in patients of a regular weight, and 11.1 percent in the obese. Obese women are the most effected, as their chances of having asthma spike by 14.6 percent.
Finally, having influenza can also boost someones chances of getting asthma, as can working certain jobs. About 15.7 percent of adults with asthma in the US, or 1.9 million people, have occupational asthma.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Asthma In Children
Signs and symptoms of asthma in children include:
- Frequent coughing spells, which may occur while the child is playing, laughing, or at night or right after waking. Coughing may be the only symptom.
- Less energy during play.
- Complaint of chest tightness or the chest “hurting.”
- Whistling sound when the child is breathing in or out.
- Retractions in the chest from difficulty breathing.
- Shortness of breath or loss of breath.
- Tightened neck and chest muscles.
- Feelings of weakness or tiredness.
Not all children have the same asthma symptoms. Symptoms can vary from episode to episode in the same child. In addition, not all wheezing or coughing is caused by asthma.
If your child has problems breathing, take him or her to the pediatrician for an evaluation. Your child may be referred to a specialist, such as a pediatric pulmonary provider or a pediatric allergist.
How Is Asthma Diagnosed
Your doctor will perform a physical exam on your child. They will look at your childs medical history and perform a breathing test called spirometry. Spirometry measures how much air you breathe out after taking a deep breath. It is painless and can be done in the doctors office. Your doctor will give your child a disposable mouthpiece that attaches to a tube. That tube attaches to a machine that records their breathing. There is usually an image on the machines screen, such as birthday candles or a wall of bricks. As your child exhales, the candles will go out . Your child will be asked to repeat the test more than once during their doctors visit to get accurate results. Your doctor will likely give your child a dose of an inhaled prescription medicine that opens up their airway for the test.
Other, more involved tests may include:
- The exercise challenge
- An exhaled nitric oxide test
- Allergy testing
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Avoiding Childhood Asthma Triggers
To prevent asthma attacks or to keep them from getting worse, focus on known triggers with steps like these:
- Donât let anyone smoke in your home or car.
- Clean bedding and carpets often to fight dust mites.
- Keep pets out of your childâs bedroom. An air filter can help with allergens.
- Get regular pest control to avoid cockroaches.
- Fix leaks and use dehumidifiers to prevent mold.
- Donât use scented cleaning products or candles.
- Check daily air quality reports in your area.
- Help your child stay at a healthy weight.
- If they have heartburn, keep it under control.
- If exercise is a trigger, your childâs doctor might have your child use the inhaler 20 minutes before the activity to keep their airways open.
- Make sure they get a flu shot every year.
Causes And Triggers Of Childhood Asthma
Common triggers include:
- Airway infections. This includes colds, pneumonia, and sinus infections.
- Allergens. Your child might be allergic to things like cockroaches, dust mites, mold, pet dander, and pollen.
- Irritants. Things like air pollution, chemicals, cold air, odors, or smoke can bother their airways.
- Exercise. It can lead to wheezing, coughing, and a tight chest.
- Stress. It can make your child short of breath and worsen their symptoms.
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What Should I Do If My Child Has A Cold
When asthma is well controlled, most colds can be managed using more reliever medicine. Follow your Asthma Action Plan. Saline sprays and rinses can also be used to help clear the nose.
Many people use their medicines only when they have symptoms and do not use or need daily inhaled corticosteroids. People are given a wide range of advice and it is very variable.
You should use your medicines as your physician has prescribed them. Using your controller and reliever medicines should help your asthma symptoms when you are exposed to your asthma triggers. If you have concerns or questions, contact your doctor.
Can You Really Grow Out Of Asthma
“If you have asthma your airways are inflamed and sensitive to triggers such as cold air, pollution, cold and flu viruses or allergies that set off your asthma symptoms ,” says Dr Andy Whittamore, clinical lead at Asthma UK.
“For some children diagnosed with asthma, the condition might improve or disappear completely as they get older but for many people, asthma is a lifelong condition,” he adds.
However, it may not always be asthma causing the problem. Asthma-like symptoms can be down to allergies, which is why it may appear that a child has outgrown their asthma.
“True asthma does not go away, just as diabetes or hypertension don’t go away,” states Dr Thomas Antalffy, inventor of the Smart Peak Flow device.
If you feel your asthma symptoms are relieved, it may simply be lying dormant so it’s important to be vigilant.
“There may be periods where your symptoms do not affect your day-to-day life and these periods could last years or even decades. However, asthma symptoms can be triggered again by a change in circumstances, such as a new workplace, stress, or hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause,” says Whittamore.
“If you’re taking your asthma medicines as prescribed and feeling well, this is a sign that they are working,” so don’t assume you no longer need treatment, he warns.
If symptoms do come back, it’s vital that you don’t ignore them and that you speak with your GP.
Can you really ‘grow out’ of asthma?
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What Makes A Child More Likely To Develop Asthma
There are many risk factors for developing childhood asthma. These include:
- Family history of asthma, allergies and atopy .
- Frequent respiratory infections.
- Being African American.
- Being raised in a low-income environment.
In children who are under five years of age, the most common cause of asthma symptoms is upper respiratory viral infections such as the common cold.
Continue To Avoid Asthma Triggers
Preventing asthma symptoms from returning may also depend on avoiding your triggers and controlling your environment as much as possible. The following steps may help:
- Take over-the-counter antihistamines during allergy season to help prevent symptoms of allergic asthma.
- Keep pets out of your bed if youre allergic to animal dander.
- Clean your home often, paying special attention to areas where dust can accumulate, such as carpeting, rugs, and curtains.
- Avoid cigarette smoke.
- Exercise in cold weather with caution.
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Can Asthma Be Prevented Or Avoided
Asthma cannot be prevented. However, your child can reduce their asthma attacks by learning their triggers and avoiding them. For example, limit your childs exposure to pets and cigarette smoke, and have them stay indoors on days when air pollution is bad. Avoid wearing strong perfume or cologne around your child. Strong smells can trigger an asthma attack.
The Tendency For Asthma
Most people who have asthma were born with a tendency toward the condition. Once you have developed sensitive airways, your respiratory tract tends to stay sensitive to asthma triggers for life. That doesnt mean that youll always be bothered by your asthma. But it does mean that if you had it as a child, even if you seem to have outgrown the condition, you very well may experience symptoms again as an adult.
Experts have studied the condition enough to now know that we dont really outgrow asthma.
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Can Allergies Make Asthma Worse
Definitely! If you are continuously exposed to one of your allergic triggers, your asthma will be more severe, and you will likely require more medicine to control your symptoms. Many people who are exposed to a pet or other allergen continuously will not experience the immediate symptoms , but this does not mean that they are not allergic. This is because constant exposure will contribute to inflammation in the airways of your lungs and inflammation causes asthma symptoms. This constant exposure also makes it more likely for you to experience more severe symptoms when you are exposed to other triggers . Intermittent exposure to allergic triggers can cause immediate, and occasionally severe asthma symptoms. All allergic triggers that have been identified should be avoided as much as possible so that your asthma is milder and easier to control with less medicine.