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How Do You Know If A Child Has Asthma

How To Tell You Have Asthma

In this section: Diagnosis and Lung Testing | How To Tell You Have Asthma | Your Healthcare Team

Asthma is a complex disease to diagnose, and only a healthcare professional is able to make a proper .

If you are concerned that you may have asthma, contact your healthcare provider. In order to confirm an asthma diagnosis, your healthcare provider will take into account your medical and family history, allergies, and conduct lung function testing such as spirometry.

What Should I Do If I Think I Have Asthma

If you think that you have asthma, the best thing you can do is see your healthcare provider as soon as possible for proper testing and . Many people normalize their symptoms, without ever realizing that a symptom-free life could be possible. Its crucial to never ignore or downplay your asthma symptoms, you never know when something could trigger a potentially fatal asthma attack.

The sooner that you get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, the sooner you can take control of your asthma and live life to the fullest.

You Live In A Cold Or Dry Environment

EIB occurs when you breathe in air that is drier and cooler than the rest of your body, which is what happens when you inhale through your mouth while exercising, explains Dr. Ogden. This type of air is a common trigger that makes your airways narrow. If the climate you live in is particularly cold or dry, your lungs are definitely more at risk.

If A Child No Longer Has Asthma Symptoms Can You Assume The Asthma Is Gone Too

Kids may become asymptomatic, but the âchronic stuffâ in their probably doesnât go away, says Derek K. Johnson, a pediatric allergist in Fairfax, Va. Only a of lung tissue would offer certainty about the state of a personâs airways.

âTo follow changes , you need to look at it on a microscopic level. Itâs not something we do routinely,â says Johnson, the former director of the division of and clinical immunology at Temple University Childrenâs Medical Center in Philadelphia.

Actions To Take If Your Child Has An Asthma Attack

  • Help them to sit up dont let them lie down. Try to be calm
  • Help them take one puff of their reliever inhaler every 30 to 60 seconds, up to a total of 10 puffs
  • If they dont have their blue inhaler, or its not helping, or if you are worried at any time, call 999 straightaway
  • While you wait for an ambulance, your child can use their blue reliever again, every 30 to 60 seconds if they need to.
  • Which Children Are At Risk For Asthma

    Certain factors raise the risk of asthma in children:

    • Being exposed to secondhand smoke when their mother is pregnant with them or when they are small children
    • Genetics and family history. Children are more likely to have asthma if one of their parents has it, especially if its the mother.
    • Race or ethnicity. Black and African Americans and Puerto Ricans are at higher risk of asthma than people of other races or ethnicities.
    • Having other medical conditions such as and
    • Often having viral respiratory infections as young children
    • Sex. In children, asthma is more common in boys. In teens, it is more common in girls.

    Other Common Triggers Include:

    • Pollen, dust mites, cockroaches and pet dander; cat dander is worse than dog.
    • Inhaling cigarette smoke or having contact with someone who has smoked cigarettes .
    • Chemicals including household cleaners, citronella candles and bug sprays.  Colognes and scented lotions are triggers.  Pool chlorine can be a problem;  indoor pools should be avoided as the chlorine is enclosed in the building.  Private pools are much better than public, because public pools tend to have much more chlorine in them.  Beach swimming is better than pool swimming.
    • Stress: Even family stress can contribute to your child’s asthma!
    • Cold and windy weather.
    • Exercise: If your child is prescribed daily medications, make sure theyre taken prior to exercise, especially if your child is physically active.  Also, your child should have  their inhaler on hand.  Exercise-induced asthma may be caused by rapid movement of air into the lungs before it is warmed and humidified. This often occurs because of mouth breathing during exercise.

    Can Asthma Be Cured

    There is currently no known cure for asthma, but with proper and asthma management it is fully possible for people with asthma to live healthy, active and symptom-free lives.

    There is still much research that needs to be done to fully understand how to prevent, treat and cure asthma. Asthma Canadas National Research Program is committed to supporting leading asthma researchers and graduate student researchers working to expand our knowledge and one day, unlock a cure. 

    Asthma Symptoms In Infants And Young Children

     In young children, cough is often the only symptom of asthma.

    Asthma symptoms generally include coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, but asthma symptoms vary widely among children. Some cough all night but are symptom-free during the day, while others seem to get frequent chest colds that just wont go away.

    Children have very small, narrow airways, and can wheeze when they have a viral infections. First episodes of cough, runny nose and fever that happen in cold and flu season is likely not asthma. If your child has several more episodes of wheeze and cough, it is more likely to be asthma. The most common cause of asthma in infants and children under three years of age is a cold. Even after the cold is gone, asthma symptoms and airway swelling can last for several weeks. 

    Signs Of Asthma In Kids

    Asthma is the most common chronic illness of childhood, but recognizing this breathing problem isnt always intuitive.

    Christy Putnal will never forget the relief she felt two years ago when the pediatrician examined her 3-year-old son, Anderson, and finally, finally said, Yep, its asthma.

    So many things fell into place, says Putnal, who lives in Butler Lake, Florida. He was always coughing. His nose was always running. The decongestants the doctor suggested didnt work. I couldnt get him well. A few months earlier, her son even spent four days in intensive care with RSV, a respiratory illness thats usually relatively minor in kids his age. No one had even mentioned the word asthma, she says.

    And yet about 6 million children in the U.S. have asthma, making it the most common chronic illness of childhood. Treatment has steadily progressed, and kids with the breathing disorder do much better now than they once did. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of children with asthma missed school in the previous year due to symptoms. Fifteen years ago, that number was more than 60 percent. And half as many children today are hospitalized for asthma as in the early 2000s.

    RELATED6 Must-Know Facts About Asthma

    So how can you tell if your coughing kids lungs might need a second look? Experts say these are the key factors to watch for.

    How Can Er Visits Be Less Stressful

    Planning can make trips to the ER less stressful for you and your child. Here are some tips to try:

    • Know the location of your closest ER. If there’s a children’s hospital ER nearby, go there and have the address and phone number handy .
    • If you have other kids, try to make arrangements with a relative or other caregiver who can take them in an emergency. But don’t let the lack of a babysitter delay your trip to the ER. Someone can always come to the hospital later to pick up your other kids.
    • Take a copy of your child’s asthma action plan or a note with the names and dosages of any medicines your child takes to share with the medical staff at the ER.
    • Try to keep a written record of when your child uses a rescue inhaler.

    How Is Asthma Diagnosed In Infants And Toddlers

    It is hard to diagnose asthma in infants and toddlers. Since they are not able to talk well, they cannot describe how they are feeling. A fussy baby could mean many things. Toddlers and preschoolers are often active, even with chest tightness or trouble breathing.Parents should give the following information to their childs doctor:

    • Family history of asthma or allergies
    • The childs behavior
    • Breathing symptom patterns
    • Potential triggers and responses to foods or possible allergy triggers

    Lung function tests often used to make a complete asthma diagnosis are hard to do with young children. Instead, the doctor may see how the child responds to medications to improve breathing. The doctor may order blood tests, allergy testing and X-rays to get more information.Using this information, the doctor can make the best diagnosis. Parents may need to take their child to a pediatric allergist or pulmonologist for special testing or treatment.

    Contact Doctor During Office Hours

    • Don’t have written asthma action plan from your doctor
    • Use an inhaler, but don’t have a spacer
    • Miss more than 1 day of school per month for asthma
    • Asthma limits exercise or sports
    • Asthma attacks wake child up from sleep
    • Use more than 1 inhaler per month
    • No asthma check-up in more than 1 year
    • You have other questions or concerns

    Responsibilities Of Parents Of Children With Asthma Who Are At School Or Childcare

    If your child or a child in your care has , you should let the staff at the childcare centre, kindergarten or school know about your childs diagnosis. Once you have done so, and given them an asthma action plan for your child, the school or childcare centre must have staff on duty who have completed accredited first aid and management training for asthma attacks.

    At the start of every year, ensure you: 

    • Inform your childs school or childcare centre about your childs asthma. 
    • Supply them with an asthma action plan for your child  updated each year and completed with your doctor. 
    • Make sure the school has unexpired asthma medication  for your child at school. 
    • Supply them with your emergency contact details and contact details for your doctor. 
    • Keep in contact with the school and inform them if your childs health needs change. 

    If your child is going on a school camp or participating in an excursion, you should supply enough medication to cover the duration of the activity. 

    In case of an emergency, staff may give your child medication without authorisation, but should call an ambulance and contact you as soon as possible. 

    What Should You Do If Your Child Has An Asthma Attack

    If your child is showing symptoms of an asthma attack:

    • Give your child their reliever medicine according to the asthma action plan.
    • Wait 15 minutes. If the symptoms go away, your child should be able to resume whatever activity they were doing. If symptoms persist, follow the Asthma Action Plan for further therapy.
    • If your child fails to improve, or if you aren’t sure what action to take, call your care provider.

    The danger signs of an asthma attack are:

    • Severe wheezing.
    • Trouble walking and/or talking,
    • Blue lips and/or fingernails.

    If your child has any of these danger signs/symptoms, go to the nearest emergency department or call 911.

    The Symptoms Youre Noticing Are Severe

    Asthma attacks often get scary very fast. Every year, one in six children with asthma goes to the emergency room or urgent care, and one in 20 gets admitted to the hospital. But severity doesnt always mean high drama. It can also refer to sickness frequent enough to interfere with your childs quality of life. Think back and count the number of times youve taken your child to his pediatrician this yearnot just for coughs but for any illness.

    On how many nights has your child lost sleep from his sickness? How many school days has he missed? Putnals son, Anderson, missed 20 last year before the Christmas break.

    RELATED10 Reasons to Call the Doctor Now

    When To Get Help

    Listen to your gut and speak with your child’s pediatrician about anything that doesn’t seem quite right, even if you or your child can’t easily give it a name.

    Wheezing, in particular, isn’t normal and should never be ignored. Contact a doctor if:

    • The wheezing is new
    • Wheezing isn’t new but is getting worse
    • You’re otherwise concerned about what’s happening with your child

    Unfortunately, a breathing emergency may be the first indication that your child has asthma. Get emergency treatment for them right away if:

    • They stop mid-sentence to catch their breath
    • Their nostrils widen nostrils when they breathing in
    • They’re using abdominal muscles to force air in and out
    • The abdomen is sucked under the ribs when they inhale
    • They’re lethargic

    What You Need To Know About Wheezing

    Other things to know about wheezing include that:

    • You can’t always hear wheezing without a stethoscope until it gets very bad, so if you suspect that your child might be wheezing, don’t wait until you can easily hear the wheezing before you seek medical attention.
    • “Stridor” is a sound that children with croup often make and it is often confused with wheezing.
    • Wheezing is not the only symptom of asthma. Some children only have a cough when they are having an asthma attack.
    • If your child’s wheezing is not getting under control, a referral to a pediatric pulmonologist might be helpful.

    You Blew That Big Competition

    Off your game and dont know why? EIB could be making you winded and affecting your athletic performance. The good news is, you can still play your favorite sports. Even Olympic athletes can compete with exercise-induced asthma. It doesnt have to ruin your life and your exercise, Dr. Ogden says, but until you get treatment, it can absolutely limit what you do and change your game. Read how this woman keeps exercising despite her exercise-induced asthma.

    How Is Asthma In Children Treated

    Based on your child’s history and how severe the asthma is, the healthcare provider will develop a care plan called an “Asthma Action Plan, which describes:

    • When and how your child should use asthma medication.
    • What to do when asthma gets worse.
    • When to seek emergency care for your child.

    Make sure you understand this plan and ask your child’s provider any questions you may have. The Asthma Action Plan is important to the success of asthma control. Keep it handy to remind you of your child’s daily asthma management plan and to guide you when your child develops asthma symptoms. In addition to following the Asthma Action Plan, try to limit exposure to asthma triggers.

    Asthma medications that adults and older children take can also safely be prescribed for toddlers and younger children. In the case of inhaled medications, a different delivery device based on the child’s age and ability may be required.

    If your infant or child is having asthma symptoms that require treatment with a rescue inhaler more than twice a week, your provider may prescribe a daily controller therapy .

    You Child Has At Least One Risk Factor

    Doctors use a standard set of questions to determine which patients are most likely to develop asthma. The major ones: Does your child have eczema? Does your child have allergies to airborne irritants, like pollen? Does one of your childs parents have asthma?

    Tracy Baker, who lives in Lincroft, New Jersey, says doctors diagnosed her son, Jack, at age 2, after she brought him to the emergency room in intense pain following weeks of coughing. As they began treating him for an ear infection, a hospital monitor that was measuring the amount of oxygen in his blood showed a sharp drop, which meant that his lungs werent functioning well. At that point, because my husband also has asthma, the doctors were able to say pretty definitively, Yes, Jack has asthma, says Baker.

    Boys are more likely to have asthma. African-American kids are also at higher risk and six times more likely to die from asthma. Its more common in Hispanic children, too, especially those of Puerto Rican descent. And children exposed to secondhand smoke are more vulnerable and have more frequent and severe attacks. Babies who are born prematurely are more likely to develop asthma as children but also more apt to outgrow it than other kids who have the condition.

    RELATEDCan You Prevent Asthma?

    Youre Feeling Out Of Shape When You Shouldnt

    Even if youre not a professional athlete, but are still healthy and active, exercise-induced asthma can make you feel sluggish. Dr. Ogden says it doesnt have anything to do with your fitness levelanyone can develop the condition. With the right treatment, you can still do any kind of exercise, she says. The reality is that it certainly has nothing to do with how physically fit you are. Try these 26 ways to get in shape without working out.

    My Baby Is Wheezing Is It Asthma

    My baby is wheezing. The doctor wants her to get breathing treatments through a . I’m worried! Could she have asthma? Audrey

    Probably not. Many babies and young children wheeze due to or viruses and don’t develop when they’re older.

    Young kids are more at risk for wheezing because their airways are very small. When they get a cold or other respiratory tract infection, these already small passages swell and fill with mucus much more easily than an older child’s or an adult’s. This can cause wheezing, , and other symptoms that people with asthma get.

    Another thing to consider is how often your baby wheezes. One instance of wheezing isn’t enough to diagnose asthma. It must happen more than once. But even when wheezing happens a bunch of times, it still might not be asthma, especially in young children. Most kids who wheeze as infants outgrow it and don’t have asthma when they get older. So doctors usually can’t make an asthma diagnosis until children are older, by about age 4 or 5.

    In the meantime, doctors will treat any asthma-like symptoms. They may prescribe asthma medicines, but probably won’t officially diagnose a child with asthma unless symptoms continue.

    • wheezing that has happened more than once
    • long-lasting coughing or coughing that get worse at night or after active playing
    • any other breathing problem that concerns you

    The doctor may ask if your child has breathing problems in different circumstances, such as during a cold or when exposed to:

    Learning To Manage Asthma

    For some people, asthma requires consistent medication and awareness of potential triggers that might lead to an asthma attack. For others, asthma only requires the occasional use of an inhaler for rare flare-ups. But to get to a point where asthma is well-controlled, parents need to be proactive about speaking to a pediatrician if a child presents with any of the symptoms associated with the disease.

    When To Call 999

    Dont delay getting the help you need if your child has an asthma attack. Call 999 if your childs reliever isnt helping, or youre worried at any time.

    While you wait for an ambulance, your child can repeat step 4 above.

    An asthma attack is a real emergency, and could be life-threatening, says nurse specialist Debby Waddell.

    Getting the right help when your child needs it is so important, to make sure your child is treated quickly. Never think youre wasting anyones time.

    How Do You Give Your Child Asthma Medication

    You will be giving your child asthma medications using a valved holding chamber device or a home nebulizer .

    Your child may be able to use a metered dose inhaler with a VHC. A VHC is a chamber that attaches to the MDI and holds the burst of medication. Talk with your child’s provider to see if an MDI with VHC is right for your child.

    The nebulizer delivers asthma medications by changing them from a liquid to a mist. Your child gets the medicine by breathing it in through a facemask or mouthpiece.

    There are some asthma medications that are also breath-actuated, or come as a dry powder. These medications are given to older children who are able to demonstrate the appropriate technique for using them.

    Managing Your Childs Asthma

    A team will help you manage your childs asthma. This may include your doctor, practice nurse, asthma educator and pharmacist.

    Asthma is treated with inhalers known as relievers and preventers to relax and open the airways, and reduce the swelling and narrowing inside them.

    Keeping a record of your concerns and your childs symptoms will help your doctor decide whether your child has asthma.

    Your doctor, nurse or asthma educator will help you learn how to:

    • use peak flow meters to assess your childs breathing at home
    • use inhalers and spacers
    • keep an asthma medication and symptom diary
    • asthma proof your home and avoid the triggers for your childs asthma.

    Theyll also help you develop a treatment plan for asthma episodes and upper respiratory infections.

    How To Notice The Signs Of Asthma In Your Child

    There are various signs your child may have asthma, and these signs may also be found in unrelated illnesses. Pay attention to the following breathing-related issues, and make an appointment with your doctor to get a professional diagnosis.

    • Breathlessness Look for fast breaths and body movements that indicate forced breathing.
    • Coughing A recurring cough thats usually experienced in the morning or late at night.
    • Wheezing Wheezing is a whistling sound that accompanies each breath.
    • Chest Tightness This usually involves stomach or chest pains.

    Notice and record when these signs of asthma are occurring. Symptoms are usually found in the morning or at night. There may also be an obvious trigger such as pollen that can indicate allergic asthma. If these symptoms keep on coming back, you must speak to your doctor.

    What You Need To Know About Your Childs Asthma

    There are many things to think about and plan for when your child has asthma. It is important to learn as much as you can about the condition. Your doctor and pharmacist are there to help you. Talk to them about any concerns you may have about your childs asthma. To manage your childs asthma effectively, it is important to know: 

    • the pattern of their asthma 
    • their asthma medications what they do and how to help your child take them properly 
    • what to do if they have an asthma attack know and follow asthma first aid

    Make sure you have an updated written asthma action plan and understand how to use it. 

    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.

    What Can I Do To Reduce Asthma Symptoms

    • Learn your childs .
    • Allergens like dust mites, pets, pests, molds and pollen can play a role in some childrens asthma.  Discuss with your health care provider whether an evaluation by an allergist may be helpful.
    • Follow your asthma management plan and give the medicines prescribed by your childs doctor.
    • Avoid smoking near your child.

    Tightness Of The Chest

    Chest tightness is one of the most common symptoms associated with asthma across all age groups. Younger children might not properly explain the feeling and may instead mention feeling funny or hurting in the chest. Coupled with shortness of breath, labored breathing, or frequent coughing fits, parents should speak with a physician to have a child properly diagnosed with asthma.