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How To Tell If Your Child Has Asthma

How Can We Avoid A Trip To The Er

How to Tell if Your Child Has Asthma

Well-managed asthma is rarely life-threatening. Taking asthma medicines as prescribed can help prevent severe asthma flare-ups and the need for emergency care.

Be sure to schedule and keep follow-up visits with your doctor and to track your child’s asthma.

It’s important to monitor your child’s asthma using the written asthma action plan your doctor helps you create. This plan will outline day-to-day treatment, symptoms to watch for, and step-by-step instructions to follow during a flare-up.

Taking asthma seriously and working to manage it can make it less likely that your child will need to go to the ER.

What Are The Symptoms Of Asthma In Older Children

Symptoms of asthma in children who are 6 years of age or older can range from a nagging cough that lingers for days or weeks to sudden and scary breathing emergencies. Common symptoms include:

  • Coughing, especially at night
  • A wheezing or whistling sound, especially when breathing out
  • Trouble breathing or fast breathing that causes the skin around the ribs or neck to pull in tightly. Children with asthma may describe this like it feels like something is squeezing or sitting on their chest
  • A lack of energy or feeling weak or tired
  • Frequent colds that settle in the chest

Face Masks And Spacer Devices

Most young children will be prescribed a face mask which attaches to their inhaler. Older children will be prescribed a ‘spacer device’. A spacer device is a plastic or metal container with a mouthpiece and a hole for the inhaler.

If your child has been prescribed a face mask or a spacer device, it is important to always use these. Face masks and spacers are the best way of making sure that your child gets the correct dose of medication right to their lungs.

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To Confirm The Diagnosis The Following Tests May Be Performed

  • Spirometry: a simple breathing test that gives measurement of lung function including a reversibility test that measures lung function before and after a dose of reliever to see if the medication has improved your lung function.
  • Peak Expiratory FlowRate : this is another simple breathing test which may be measured over a period of time such as when one has symptoms or is symptoms free. It can be performed by a G.P., in a hospital or even at home.
  • Exercise Testing: this test is used to check if exercise makes your symptoms worse.

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 diagnosis.

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.

Asthma Emergencies In Children

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Symptoms of an asthma attack can worsen and develop into an asthma emergency. To prepare for an asthma emergency, make sure your childs doctor has written an asthma action plan for your child.

Have a copy of your childs asthma action plan pinned up somewhere easy to access at home, and send a copy to anyone who cares for your child, including their school, kinder, childcare service, family members and friends. You may like to take a photo of their asthma action plan so you always have a copy with you.

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Whats An Asthma Attack

When you breathe normally, muscles around your airways are relaxed, letting air move easily. During an asthma attack, three things can happen:

  • Bronchospasm: The muscles around the airways constrict . When they tighten, it makes the airways narrow. Air cannot flow freely through constricted airways.
  • Inflammation: The airway linings become swollen. Swollen airways dont let as much air in or out of the lungs.
  • Mucus production: During the attack, your body creates more mucus. This thick mucus clogs airways.

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What Causes Asthma In Infants And Toddlers

We still do not know what causes some people to get asthma. If a child has a family history of asthma or allergies, a specific allergy or had a mother who smoked during pregnancy, they have a higher chance of getting asthma early in life.

A respiratory virus, an illness that occurs in the lungs, is one of the most common causes of asthma symptoms in children 5 years old and younger. Although both adults and children experience respiratory infections, children have more of them. Some preschool children get viral infections often. At least half of children with asthma show some sign of it before the age of 5. Viruses are the most common cause of acute asthma episodes in infants 6 months old or younger.

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Treating Your Childs Asthma

There are two types of medications commonly used to treat asthma: controller medications, meant to decrease the underlying inflammation and reliever, or rescue, medications, which calm the symptoms of an asthma exacerbation or attack, like coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath. There are a few kinds of controller medications, but the most commonly prescribed is a corticosteroid thats taken every day using an inhaler . Less commonly, daily pills are used to control asthma.

Asthma relievers, or rescue medications, are used to open up the airways when asthma symptoms, such as coughing or wheezing, are present. Ideally, your childs asthma will be well-controlled with an inhaled corticosteroid and these medications will not be used very often. Relievers are always taken by inhaler to get the medication to the lungs quickly.

Parents work closely with their childs doctor to make sure the medications are working as they should and to check whether the dose or type of medication needs adjusting.

Your doctor might give you something called an Asthma Action Plan, which outlines what medication your child should be taking on a regular basis and when to give the rescue inhaler or seek medical attention. It can be helpful to work with an asthma or respiratory educator who can help you fine-tune your understanding of the medications and symptoms, says Andrea White Markham, a registered respiratory therapist and certified respiratory educator.

What Are The Signs My Child May Have Asthma

How to tell if your child has Asthma

Although 80-90% of asthmatics are diagnosed as children, its not always easy to know if this disease is whats making your child unwell. Young children arent always able to articulate their symptoms, and asthma in children can look different than asthma in adults.

To help you know whether or not your child could have asthma, here are the top signs to look for:

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Making Er Trips 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 theres a childrens 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 dont 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 childs 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.

Be Partners In Asthma Management

As soon as your child is old enough, make sure he or she understands the asthma action plan and the importance of following it. Some kids with asthma, especially teens, resist taking long-term control medicines and rely instead on their quick-relief medicines to help them on an as-needed basis. This is never a good idea and will increase the chances of needing emergency care.

The chances of a serious asthma flare-up can be reduced if parents and kids understand and follow the action plan. And remember to call your doctor even during early flare-ups or if you have questions about your action plan.

Reviewed by: Nicole A. Green, MDDate reviewed: May 2013

Note: All information on KidsHealth is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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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.

My Baby Is Wheezing Is It Asthma

How to Know If Your Child Has Asthma

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

Probably not. Many babies and young children wheeze due to or viruses and dont develop when theyre 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 childs or an adults. 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 isnt 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 dont have asthma when they get older. So doctors usually cant 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 wont 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:

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Asthma Patterns In Children

Every childs asthma is different. Some children have mild, occasional episodes of asthma or only show symptoms after exercising, or when they have a cold. Some experience daily symptoms, while others have symptoms continuously, which limit their level of activity.

Each pattern of asthma requires a different treatment approach. It is important to remember that children can still have a severe and even life-threatening attack, even if they generally have mild or occasional asthma.

What To Do In An Emergency

Follow these steps if your child is having an asthma attack:

  • Stay calm as this will help your child stay calm – breathing can become harder if they are stressed.
  • Sit them upright.
  • Ask them to take slow breaths.
  • Connect their face mask or spacer device to their inhaler.
  • Give them a puff of their inhaler every minute. Children under the age of 6 can have 6 puffs in a 10 minute period. Children over the age of 6 can take 10 puffs over 10 minutes.
  • Take the details of your childs inhalers, other medicines and personal asthma action plan with you if you go to hospital.

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    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 childs 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.

    Question : Do Your Symptoms Get Worse When You Go Out In The Garden Or Are Near Pets

    How To Tell If Your Child Has Asthma

    You answered yes.

    You answered no.

    • A worsening of asthma symptoms is known as an asthma exacerbation, or more commonly, as an asthma attack. These are induced by triggers stimulus that cause increased severity of symptoms.
    • Triggers are often something airborne that inflame the bronchi when they come into contact with them.
    • Common triggers include allergens such as pollen, pet hair, or dust, but an asthma attack can also be triggered by non-allergic reactions, such as to cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes, certain foods or medicines, or an abrupt change in the weather.
    • An attack can even be brought on by stress a number of changes in the body take place when were under pressure, which can lead to increased chest tightness and heavy breathing.
    • The body also releases chemicals in periods of stress, such as leukotrienes and histamines, which can cause inflammation of the airways.

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    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.

    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 Is Asthma In Children Treated

    Based on your childs 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 childs 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 childs 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 childs 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 .

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    Who Can Get Asthma

    Anyone can develop asthma at any age. People with allergies or people exposed to tobacco smoke and secondhand smoke are more likely to develop asthma.

    Statistics show women tend to have asthma more than men, and asthma affects Black Americans more frequently than other races.

    When a child develops asthma, healthcare providers call it childhood asthma. If it develops later in life, its adult-onset asthma.

    Children do not outgrow asthma. They may have fewer symptoms as they get older, but they could still have an asthma attack. Your childs healthcare provider can help you understand the risks.

    Your Body May Present With Early Symptoms

    Get Help From Your Pediatrician If Your Child Has Asthma

    Response from Theresa Cannizzarro, Respiratory Therapist

    There are several warning signs that can occur before an asthma attack happens. A very common one is that you will notice your peak flow numbers start to drop, often times days before you start experiencing symptoms. Noticing under your chin is itchy is another unusual, yet common warning sign of an impending asthma attack. Itchy throat, excessive tiredness, and moodiness can also occur a couple days to a couple hours before your asthma starts acting up.

    Itâs important to start paying close attention to your body for any of these symptoms you may experience. I recommend to my patients to keep an asthma diary/journal and write down every day how you are feeling as well as peak flows, and symptoms. Youâll start to notice a pattern and be able to better predict if/when your asthma will start acting up.

    • Talk with your teen about the dangers of vaping.
    • Vaping can cause severe lung damage. It can become permanent.
    • Vaping can even cause death .
    • Vaping tobacco also causes nicotine addiction.
    • For these reasons, the legal age to purchase vaping products is 21 in the US.
    • Encourage your teen to not start vaping or to give it up.
    • Warning: home-made or street-purchased vaping solutions are the most dangerous.

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