Wheezing And Asthma In Infants
Millions of kids under the age of 18 have asthma. Most develop symptoms by age 6 some do as young as by age 3.
Asthma is becoming more common in developed countries, though no one knows exactly why. But researchers are sure of one thing: Kids are more likely to develop asthma if theres a family history of allergies and asthma. This is especially true if a childs parents have asthma and certain allergies.
Will My Child Outgrow Asthma
Asthma is rarely outgrown it often persists into adulthood. However, some parents see the symptoms of asthma go away as their child grows. This could be the result of the childs lungs growing larger or the immune system adapting over time. However, sensitivity to allergens as an asthma symptom trigger may still remain. And for many, symptoms often reappear years later.
Asthma Emergencies In Children
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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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.
Can A Child Outgrow Asthma
Once someone gets sensitive airways, they stay that way for life. This is the case even though asthma symptoms can change over the years. As a child gets older, they may be able to handle airway inflammation and irritants better, so their symptoms may get better. About half of those children get asthma symptoms again when they are in their late 30s or early 40s. There is no way to know which children may have reduced symptoms as they get older. New triggers may set off symptoms at any time in people who have asthma. If your child has asthma, keep quick-relief medicines and their Asthma Action Plan on hand , even if symptoms dont happen often.
Medical Review September 2015.
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How Can We Avoid A Trip To The Er
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 childs asthma.
Its important to monitor your childs 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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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Seeking A Medical Diagnosis
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.
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When Should You Consult A Doctor
In most cases, symptoms of severe asthma require immediate medical assistance, so be on the lookout for the following signs:
- Stopping in the middle of a sentence to catch a breath
- Using abdominal or neck muscles to breathe
- The abdomen sinks under their ribs when they try to get air
- Chest and sides that pull in as they breathe
- Severe wheezing
- Cystic fibrosis
- Conditions leading to weaker lung development, such as prematurity
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.
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Avoid Exposure To Pollutants
Radon, second-hand smoke, household chemicals and air pollution can worsen asthma symptoms. According to an American Lung Association State of the Air 2011 report, the area comprised of Los Angeles, Long Beach and Riverside, is fourth in the nation with the worst short-term air pollution. It’s the second worst for year-round air pollution and number one for worst ozone pollution.
That’s why it’s so important for local parents to check news reports and keep asthmatic children inside when pollution levels are particularly high. A simple way to prevent your child’s exposure to smoke is also not to do it around your children.
What Can I Do To Manage My Childs Asthma
When a baby or toddler has a chronic illness, parents can feel stressed to their limits. Here are some coping tips:
- Learn the warning signs for increasing asthma in infants and toddlers. Know your childs particular asthma symptom pattern.
- Develop an asthma care plan with your childs doctor. Make sure the plan has a course of action to follow if asthma symptoms get worse. Understand when your child needs emergency care.
- Follow your child’s Asthma Action Plan every day! Dont change the plan until you consult your health care provider. Even if your childs symptoms are gone, stick with the plan until you discuss changes with the doctor.
- Teach your toddler or preschooler to tell you when they are not feeling well.
- Work out an emergency plan of action to follow if your child has a serious asthma episode. What hospital will you use? Who will take care of your other children? How does your medical coverage provide for emergency care?
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What Factors Can Trigger Or Worsen Asthma Symptoms In Babies
Similar to other asthma sufferers, symptoms in infants can be triggered or worsened by certain factors. Identifying these triggers can help your child better control their condition.
- Colds or other respiratory infections
- Allergens, such as dust, pet dander or pollen
- Mold infestation in the house
- Physical activity or exercise
- Changes or extremes in weather
- Viral infection in the lungs
How Do I Know If My Infant Or Child Has Severe Asthma
If you are concerned that your infant or childs asthma may be severe, observe their behavior for the indicators below and speak to your healthcare provider right away.
Observe your infant for any of the following indicators of Severe Asthma:
- Sits up, refuses to lie down
- Stops feeding
- Pale or bluish-looking skin anywhere
- Rapid breathing
- Using accessory muscles of breathing-in, drawing of muscles at the neck when breathing it may look like the skin is being tugged in. If you see this, your child must be assessed by a healthcare provider.
Observe your child for any of the following indicators of Severe Asthma:
- Pale looking or bluish looking skin- anywhere
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How Does The Doctor Know If My Child Has Asthma
There is no simple test to diagnose asthma. However, there are some signs that may help your child’s physician decide if your child has asthma:
Wheezing is a common symptom of asthma. You hear wheezing when air is moving through narrowed airways. Be sure to tell your doctor if your child wheezes.
Chronic cough is another hint that your child might have asthma. Be especially alert for coughing at night, after exercise, or after exposure to cold air.
Another clue to look for is shortness of breath during exercise. Naturally, all children get out of breath when theyre running and jumping, but most begin to breathe normally very quickly after exercise. If you child take a long time to breathe normally after exercise, please tell your doctor.
Having a long-lasting cough after a cold or viral infection may be a sign that your child has asthma.
Spacers And Asthma Medication
For all people with asthma, it is recommended that a spacer device is used when asthma medication is delivered via a puffer . A spacer is a specially designed container that attaches to a puffer and has its own mouthpiece to breathe through.
Using a spacer helps the medication to go where it is supposed to into the small airways in the lungs rather than ending up coating your childs mouth, tongue and throat. It is much more effective than using a puffer on its own. Using a spacer with a puffer can reduce or prevent side effects from inhaled medication.
Babies and young children may need a spacer with a special face mask attached to inhale asthma medicines effectively. These fit tightly around your childs mouth and nose to make sure none of the medicine leaks out. Talk to your pharmacist for advice and to have your technique checked.
Watch this Asthma Australia video which shows you how to use a spacer with a face mask.
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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.
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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.
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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.