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How Is Asthma Diagnosed In Toddlers

How Many People Died From Asthma In The Uk In 2012

How are children diagnosed with asthma?

Around 1,200 people a year are;recorded as dying from asthma.

Although low compared with most;other lung diseases, this figure is;still too high. Given the manageability;of asthma, mortality should be;closer to zero. The Royal College;of Physicians report Why asthma;still kills details how managing;the disease more effectively could;dramatically reduce mortality.

UK deaths from asthma compared with other lung diseases, 2012

How Is Asthma Diagnosed In A Baby

It can be difficult for doctors to diagnose asthma in infants because it is not easy to measure lung function in children who are of preschool age or younger. Diagnosis will rely on the parents and the symptoms they report, as well as the familys medical history.

The doctor will ask about when your baby coughs or has trouble breathing. It may be helpful to take notes at home about the time of day and what your baby is exposed to when symptoms are present. Tell the doctor about any family members that have asthma or allergies.

You Had It As A Kid But Were Never Diagnosed

Were you chronically sick as a child? Did you quit sports when your cardiovascular fitness never seemed to improve? Did you hate gym class because it made your chest hurt?

Plenty of children with asthma fly under the radar and dont realize thats what their symptoms were until they are diagnosed as adults.

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Diagnosis And When To See A Doctor

Diagnosing asthma in babies can be challenging. A doctor cannot use the typical lung function tests because babies cannot exhale or inhale on command.

As a result, doctors do not typically diagnose asthma in babies. If a baby has asthma-like symptoms, the doctor may diagnose reactive airway disease and confirm an asthma diagnosis when the child is older and if the symptoms persist.

To check for the issue in a baby, a doctor may:

  • Give medications to open the airways and see whether the symptoms improve.
  • Give allergy tests to check for sensitivities to common triggers, such as dust mites, mold, pet dander, and pollen in an older baby or toddler.
  • Order imaging studies, such as X-rays, to examine the lungs.

They may also make a referral to an allergy or lung specialist for further testing and treatment.

Asthma is a chronic condition with no cure. However, many babies with asthma-like symptoms, such as wheezing, do not go on to have asthma later in life.

What Are Signs And Symptoms Of Asthma In Babies


In infants and toddlers, it may be hard for parents, and even doctors, to recognize signs and symptoms of asthma. Bronchial tubes in infants, toddlers and preschoolers are already small and narrow, and colds and other illnesses can iname airways, making them even smaller and more irritated.

Asthma symptoms will vary from child to child. The challenge with infants is that they cannot tell you how they are feeling.

Babies with asthma may experience difficulty breathing you may notice their bellies moving more when inhaling or exhaling and the nostrils of their nose may flare out. You might also notice:

  • Wheezing or a whistling sound when breathing
  • Fast, shallow breathing

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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.

Everyday Treatment For Asthma In Children

The main aims of day-to-day asthma treatment are to:;

  • keep symptoms under control;
  • keep lungs as healthy as possible;
  • stop asthma from interfering with school or play;
  • help your child enjoy a full and active life.;

Your doctor will help you to develop a plan to manage your childs asthma;which will include;an;asthma;action;plan;, and will prescribe the correct medication to help you do so.;

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How Is A Spirometry Test Performed

  • You will sit upright.
  • You will be given a clip to place on your nose.
  • You will be given a plastic mouthpiece connected to a spirometer.
  • You will place the mouthpiece in your mouth and create a tight seal with your lips.
  • You will take a deep breath in and then blow out as hard and fast as you can until you cant blow out any more.
  • You will do the test several times, until the best result is recorded.
  • You will take some puffs of a bronchodilator medication.
  • After 15 minutes, you will do the test again, to see if the medication helps your breathing. If your results are much better after taking the medication, you may have asthma.
  • Your healthcare provider will explain your results.

    Some people who have asthma will have a normal spirometry test. If this is the case, you may be asked to take another test to confirm the diagnosis of asthma, like a methacholine challenge or exercise test.

    *Infants and small children under 5-6 years old usually cannot do the spirometry test. Young childrens asthma is typically diagnosed based on signs and symptoms , family history, history of allergies, and their response to asthma medications.

    Can You Help Your Child Outgrow Allergies

    How is Asthma Diagnosed?

    Yes, although technically, the process is called immunotherapy. If you need help managing your childs allergies, immunotherapy can help reduce the severity and intensity of your childs reactions.;

    Immunotherapy, sometimes called allergy shots, is the process by which we inject a very small amount of the allergen. The body learns to tolerate the allergen over time. Again, its a very small amount, but over the years, your child can experience fewer allergy symptoms.

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    Inhaled Medication Delivery Devices

    Inhaled asthma medications come in a variety forms including pressurized metered-dose inhalers and dry powder inhalers . Not all medications are available in the same delivery devices. Also, some devices have dose counters included and others, such as pMDIs, do not. The most important factor in selecting a medication delivery device is to ensure that the patient uses it properly.

    In children, it is recommended that pMDIs always be used with a spacer device since they are as effective as nebulizers; a pMDI with spacer is also preferred over nebulizers . A spacer with face mask is recommended for children 24;years of age, while a spacer with mouthpiece is recommended for children 46;years of age. To transition to a spacer with mouthpiece, children must be able to form a seal around the mouthpiece and breathe through their mouths. For children 6;years of age or over, a pMDI plus spacer with mouthpiece or DPI is recommended. Since children must have sufficient inspiratory force to use a DPI, these devices are generally not recommended for children under 6;years of age.

    Why Are More Children Getting Asthma

    No one really knows why more and more children are developing asthma. Suggestions include the following:

    • Children are being exposed to more and more allergens such as dust, air pollution and second-hand smoke.
    • Children aren’t exposed to enough childhood illnesses to build up their immune systems.
    • Lower rates of breastfeeding have prevented important substances of the immune system from being passed on to babies.

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    Will My Childs Trial Of Treatment Affect The Results

    Ideally, to get a true picture, your child would be tested for asthma before starting treatment with a preventer inhaler, but this is not always possible.

    Your child may need to stop taking treatment for a short time before any tests, to get useful results. This is because, if your childs been taking regular preventer medicines, the tests will show improved lung function.

    When Can My Child Be Tested For Asthma

    How To Diagnose Asthma In Children, Before It Attacks?

    Usually, once a child is over five years old, theyre more able to do asthma tests to confirm an asthma diagnosis.

    Some children over five still cannot do tests well enough to get useful results. Try not to worry if this is the case for your child. Your GP can continue to treat them for suspected asthma based on their symptoms and history. And your child can try the tests again in a few months or a year.

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    Can Children Outgrow Asthma And/or Allergies

    Asthma is a chronic state of hyper-responsiveness. While some children have asthmatic symptoms that clear up over the course of their adolescence, others have symptoms that worsen. The tendency to have overly sensitive airways usually remains. There is no way, unfortunately, to predict a childs future with asthma.

    For allergies, it is erroneous to believe children outgrow them as they would a pair of shoes. However, allergies may improve over the course of time, especially during puberty.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Asthma

    Asthma causes difficulty breathing because of narrowed, mucus-filled airways. This may cause a child to have trouble breathing and/or develop a tight feeling in the chest. Other asthma symptoms include fast breathing, wheezing, coughing, or needing to use extra muscles in the neck, chest, or abdomen to bring air into the lungs.

    Symptoms of asthma are not the same for everyone. Some children have symptoms nearly every day and need to take medications. Other children may only have occasional symptoms, one or two times a week. These people may only need medications when they have asthma symptoms.

    We dont always know why a baby develops asthma but some causes can be:

    • Family history of asthma, allergies or eczema
    • Premature birth
    • A viral infection , especially when the baby is less than 6 months old
    • A mother who smokes during pregnancy

    As many as 80% of children that will have asthma develop signs and symptoms before the age of 5.

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    What Can I Do To Reduce Asthma Symptoms

    • Learn your childs triggers.
    • 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.

    Can Older Kids And Teens Outgrow Asthma

    How is asthma diagnosed?

    Theres no easy answer to this question. Very few studies have followed children with asthma into their adult years, but one piece of recent research did just that. The study, published in the journal Pediatrics in 2013, followed 248 children diagnosed with asthma until they were 19.

    The study found that at age 19:

    • 21% were free of asthma symptoms
    • 38% had occasional symptoms
    • 41% had frequent symptoms

    Children who were allergic to cats or dogs and those who had more severe asthma at a young age were more likely to have persistent asthma at age 19.

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    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.;

    Create An Asthma Action Plan

    Both adults and children need to create an asthma action plan to outline what type of medicine they should take and when. It will also provide details for what to do when a persons asthma is dangerously out of control. These instructions will help you, your child, friends and relatives know when its time to change treatments or seek emergency care.

    To make this plan, discuss your treatment options with your doctor. Plan what you should do in the event of an asthma flare-up. Define at what point you need to increase treatment measures to prevent or reduce an attack.

    List what triggers can be avoided and the best ways to avoid them. Share this plan with friends, relatives, and any caregivers your children may have. Together, you will be able to successfully treat your or your childs asthma and avoid future complications.

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    How Is Asthma In Children Diagnosed

    Asthma is often difficult to diagnose in infants. However, the disease can often be diagnosed in older children based on the child’s medical history, symptoms, and physical examination, and on certain tests:

    • Medical history and symptom description: The healthcare provider will ask about any history of breathing problems your child may have, as well as a family history of asthma, allergies, a skin condition called eczema, or other lung diseases. Be sure to describe your child’s symptoms in detail, including when and how often these symptoms have been occurring.
    • Physical exam: During the physical examination, the doctor will listen to your child’s heart and lungs.
    • Tests: Many children will have a chest X-ray and pulmonary function tests, which measure the amount of air in the lungs and how fast it can be exhaled . The results will help the provider determine how severe the asthma is. Children younger than 5 are usually unable to perform pulmonary function tests, so doctors rely heavily on history, symptoms, and physical examination in making the diagnosis.

    The doctor may order other tests to help identify particular asthma triggers, including allergy skin testing and blood tests.

    How Is Asthma Diagnosed In A Child

    How Is Asthma Diagnosed In Children?

    To diagnose asthma, your childs healthcare provider may recommend these tests:

    • Spirometry.;A spirometer is a device used to check lung function. It can be done in young children, including infants.;
    • Peak flow monitoring. A peak flow meter is used to measure the amount of air a child can blow out of the lungs. This measurement is very important in checking how well your childs asthma is being controlled.
    • Chest X-rays.;This diagnostic test;uses invisible energy beams to make images of internal tissues, bones, and organs on film.
    • Allergy tests. Allergy tests can show if your child has allergies that may be causing or worsening asthma.

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    How Many People Develop Asthma For The First Time Each Year In The Uk

    Around 160,000 people a year receive an;asthma diagnosis. This is more than are;diagnosed with any other lung condition.;However, incidence rates went down by;around 10% between 2008 and 2012.

    We need further research to understand;why. Possible reasons include:

    • Asthma is becoming less common.
    • Conditions like COPD are becoming less;likely to be misdiagnosed as asthma.
    • Better diagnosis has reduced the;backlog of cases that failed to be;diagnosed in the past. Consequently,;only new cases are being diagnosed.

    Number of people per 100,000 newly diagnosed with asthma, each year, 200412

    Why Do Asthma Symptoms Disappear For Some Kids And Not Others

    Some working theories:

    • As a child gets bigger, so do the airways in their lungs. Inflammation of airways, an asthma hallmark, could go on unnoticed, Johnson says.
    • Children who wheeze only when they have a cold or other upper respiratory virus tend to improve with time, he says.
    • Children who are sensitive to allergens from a young age tend not to improve, Rachelefsky says. His observation is backed up by findings from a nine-year study of more than 1,000 asthmatic children that found fewer allergy-related antibodies in those who became symptom-free.
    • Children with eczema, a skin disorder characterized by itchy rash, or a family history of asthma are likelier to have lasting asthma symptoms.
    • The more severe the asthma past the age of 5, the likelier symptoms will continue, with or without allergies, Rachelefsky says.

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    What Causes An Asthma Attack

    Children with asthma have airways that are sensitive and react to certain triggers.

    Some children have asthma all year round. Others may only have it in certain seasons or situations.;

    Triggers which cause an asthma attack include:

    • viruses for example, a;cold, with a runny nose
    • things people are allergic to such as;pollens,;moulds,;pet hair and;dust-mites
    • cold or humid weather, or a change in the weather
    • exercise
    • emotions such as anxiety and excitement
    • air pollutants, such as cigarette smoke

    What Are The Treatments For Asthma In Children

    What is Asthma and How Is it Diagnosed and Treated?

    IIf your child has asthma, you will work with their health care provider to create a treatment plan. The plan will include ways to manage your childs asthma symptoms and prevent asthma attacks, such as

    • Strategies to avoid triggers. For example, if tobacco smoke is a trigger for your child, you should not allow anyone to smoke in your home or car.
    • Short-term relief medicines, also called quick-relief medicines. They help prevent symptoms or relieve symptoms during an asthma attack. They include an inhaler to have for your child at all times. It may also include other types of medicines which work quickly to help open your childs airways.
    • Control medicines. They work by reducing airway inflammation and preventing narrowing of the airways. Not all children will take control medicines. Whether or not your child needs them depends on how severe the asthma is and how often your child has symptoms.

    If your child has a severe attack and the short-term relief medicines do not work, get medical help right away.

    Your child’s provider may adjust the treatment until the asthma symptoms are controlled.

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