How Do I Handle An Asthma Flare
If you feel like a flare-up is about to happen, stay calm. Let people around you know whats going on. Then remember your asthma action plan. Thats the written plan that tells you what to do next.
Stay calm and focus on what your asthma action plan says. Your doctor probably told you to use your quick-relief medicine, so do that first.
If you can figure out what triggered your symptoms , remove the trigger or yourself from the area. Sometimes thats all you need to get your asthma under control again.
If a flare-up is more severe, you might need to get help.
What Do Asthma Symptoms At Night Mean
If your child is coughing or wheezing at night its a sign their asthma is not well managed.
Its important to see your childs GP or asthma nurse if asthma symptoms are affecting their sleep.
Your GP/asthma nurse can:
- check that your child is taking their asthma medicines as prescribed – sometimes its easy to let their routine slip a bit
- consider increasing or changing your childs asthma medicines
- check your childs inhaler technique, and that you know how to help them use their inhalers correctly. We have tips for helping your child use their inhalers.
If your child hasnt yet been diagnosed with asthma, coughing or wheezing at night could be signs of asthma.
Coughing and wheezing can be symptoms of other things too. For example, if your child has a cold its very common for them to cough during the night.
What Is Asthma In Children
Asthma is a long-term lung disease that causes your childs airways to become sensitive to certain things . Several things happen to the airways when a child is exposed to triggers:
- The lining of the airways swells.
- The muscles around the airways tighten.
- The airways make more thick mucus than normal.
All of these things will cause the airways to narrow. This makes it difficult for air to go in and out of your childs lungs, and leads to the symptoms of asthma.
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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.
No : Not All Colds Are The Same
Coughs usually start with a viral upper-respiratory infection . But sometimes the cold is not as dramatic as people might expect, says Annette Cameron, MD, a pediatrician. You dont necessarily have the full burden of symptoms. There might just be a slight runny nose, congestion, maybe a low-grade fever and then, this cough, she says. The cough tends to linger the longest and can last for up to two weeks. This is when parents come in and ask, Why is my child coughing when there are no other symptoms?
The answer, Dr. Cameron often tells them, is that there are other mild symptoms they arent recognizingor they forgot about them as theyve all gone away, except for the cough.
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Is My Child’s Cough Covid
People with COVID-19 often have a dry cough, but you can also have a wet cough from COVID. If your child has a cough and other COVID symptoms, or if they have been around someone who has COVID, they should be tested.
If your child’s cough from COVID lasts longer than three weeks, call their pediatrician. If at any point your child’s cough is so bad they can’t breathe, take them to the ER.
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.
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What To Do If Your Child Wont Stop Coughing
Coughs are pretty common in toddlers. This is because they are exposed to a lot of bacteria and viruses. While most coughs go away on their own, there are instances when your toddler wont stop coughing. This can be worrying, but its important to remember that exposure to these various assaults helps your child develop their immune system.
Its important that whenever your child wont stop coughing, you try to find out what might be causing it and help them get enough rest so they can recover quickly. Most coughs last between one and two weeks and are usually dealt with at home. In this article, we look at what to do when your toddler wont stop coughing even after two weeks.
Are Asthma Medicines Safe When Youre Breastfeeding
Asthma medicines do get into your breast milk, but the amounts are very low and are safe for the baby. If you take high doses of certain asthma medicines, like theophylline, your baby may become irritable or have trouble sleeping. To help prevent this, take your asthma medicines 3 or 4 hours before the next feeding. Your provider and your babys provider can help you adjust your medicine schedule so you and your baby can get the health benefits of breastfeeding.
Last reviewed: November, 2013
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Does Your Child Need To See A Doctor About Asthma Symptoms
Your child should see your GP if:
- your childs wheezing, cough or shortness of breath doesnt go away or gets worse despite medication
- your child needs to use an inhaler more often than every 3-4 hours
- 2-6 puffs of the inhaler dont help to make your child better immediately
- your child cant exercise or play normally, or cant keep up with other children
- your childs sleep is disturbed because of coughing or wheezing
- your child needs to use the inhaler more frequently or there has been a change in your childs symptoms
- your child needs medication as soon as they wake up in the morning, or cant wait until after breakfast
- you dont have a clear asthma action plan for your child.
Your childs doctor will take a very careful history of how bad your childs symptoms are and how often your child has them. Your childs asthma action plan will depend on these factors.
Your doctor should regularly review your childs asthma action plan.
What Are The Complications Of Asthma
Poorly-controlled asthma can have a negative effect on your quality of life. Complications may include:
- being less productive at work or while studying
- an inability to exercise and be physically active
- reduced lung function
- poor mental health
Taking your medications exactly as prescribed is important. If you feel that your asthma is affecting your quality of life, contact your doctor for a medicines review.
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When To See A Healthcare Provider For A Child’s Cough
A child’s cough is not always a reason to panic. With time and experience, caregivers learn when it’s time to call their child’s healthcare provider or head to the ER.
Some warning signs mean a child’s cough is not something you can handle at home. If your child is coughing and has these symptoms, you’ll need to get them medical care right away:
- A fever of 100.4 F or higher in an infant 2 months old or younger
- A fever of 102 F or higher in a child of any age
Will My Child Grow Out Of Asthma
Asthma is a long-term condition. The majority of children with asthma have less troublesome asthma as teenagers. Symptoms can appear again in adulthood. If your child has severe asthma, it is more likely to continue or return in later life.
Your child should learn about asthma and gradually take over responsibility for its management, as they become a teenager, with support from you.
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Things You Might Not Know About Childhood Asthma
- By Claire McCarthy, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
Follow me on Twitter @drClaire
Asthma is one of most common chronic diseases of childhood almost 9% of children in the United States suffer from it. And yet I find its a disease that lots of people dont understand even parents of children with asthma.
Lungs are made up of lots of little tubes that lead into bigger tubes they look almost like sponges. In asthma, the tubes get irritated and narrowed, making it hard for air to get in and out. Lots of different things can cause that irritation, such as allergies, cold air, chemicals in the air, exercise, the common cold, or even stress.
As a pediatrician, I see children with asthma almost every day and have lots of conversations with their families. Over the years, Ive found that there are lots of misunderstandings about asthma, and those misunderstandings can cause real problems for children with asthma.
Here are three things you might not know about childhood asthma.
Coughs Can Be Triggered By More Than Colds
We cough in order to expectorate or cough out stuff from our airway. This includes phlegm and mucus from infection, other things that have gone into the airway instead of the stomach and anything else that can irritate the airway. We have cough receptors throughout the respiratory tract that trigger a cough when irritated. Thats why things that tickle the back of your throat can cause coughing and gagging. Some people even have a cough receptor in their ear called Henrys nerve and they may feel the need to cough when cleaning their ears.
Chronic cough may be cause for concern
When a cough lasts for longer than four weeks in children we call this a chronic cough. There are many causes of chronic cough and usually if a cough lasts long enough to be considered chronic it needs to be evaluated.
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How Can I Help My Child Live With Asthma
You can help manage your childs asthma by:
- Finding out your childs triggers and keeping him or her away from them.
- Giving your child medicine as directed to prevent symptoms.
- Creating and keeping an Asthma Action Plan.
- Closely watching asthma signs and symptoms to know when they are getting worse.
- Knowing what to do when asthma gets worse.
- Making sure your child has proper emergency medication and paperwork on file with his or her school.
Work with your childs health care provider to find the best way to take care of your childs asthma. There are guidelines for children from newborn to age 4, ages 5 to 11, and ages 12 and older.
The more information a person with asthma has, the better the asthma can be controlled.
How Do I Help A Child Having A Serious Asthma Attack
As soon as you see a child start to have an asthma attack, take action. Have the child sit down upright and encourage the child to breathe slowly and stay calm. Follow the school medical plan and if the child has an bronchodilator inhaler which relieves asthma symptoms quickly, give the medication. Call 9-1-1 if the attack does not respond to the medication and call their parents. Watch the child closely and don’t leave them alone.Call 9-1-1 if the child:
- Has trouble walking or talking.
- Stops playing and can’t start activity again within a few moments or after taking medication.
- Has lips or fingertips that turn grey or blue.
- Has a hard time breathing.
- Pulls their chest and/or neck in when trying to breathe.
- Is hunched over.
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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
- emotions such as anxiety and excitement
- air pollutants, such as cigarette smoke
Find A Supportive Physician
I think having a supportive physician is crucial for just about any issues you or your child may have. Weve discovered this a lot, especially with little Oliver. Once we found his pulmonologist, it made a world of difference. He encouraged us to ask questions from the start, and he spends as long as we need to with him .
While most pediatricians are wonderful, they arent always specifically trained in treating asthma. If you suspect your child has asthma, I recommend seeing a specialist typically a pediatric pulmonologist is your best bet. Asthma can be a very tricky thing to treat, and you definitely want the best on your side.
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Signs Of Breathing Difficulty
If your child wont stop coughing, you should evaluate their breathing. First, remove their shirt and watch them as they are as comfortable as possible. You can make observations while they play with a table or sit in front of the TV.
Count how many times they breathe in a minute.
This is important to assess whether your child is using more effort to breathe than usual if your toddler wont stop coughing.
- With their shirt off, see if their skin pulls in at any of these areas as they breathe: above the collar bone, between the ribs, and on the tummy, below the ribs.
- Check if the childs nostrils are flaring. This is an indication that they are finding it difficult to breathe.
- If they are still nursing, watch to see if they need to frequently pause to catch their breath as they are drinking milk.
If your child wont stop coughing and they have any of these signs, contact your pediatrician immediately and share the details of what you noticed. You can also check out other signs of breathing difficulties by searching, my child wont stop coughing. If you consider the situation to be an emergency, dont hesitate to call an ambulance.
How Do I Treat My Child’s Asthma Attack
You will need to use the blue inhaler with a plastic tube called a spacer.
- give 2 puffs of the blue inhaler, one puff at a time, using the spacer, every 4 hours
- for each puff of the blue inhaler, your child will need to take 6 breaths through the spacer
If your child is still not improving:
- you can give up to 6 puffs of the blue inhaler every 4 hours
You need to take your child to your family doctor, or an after-hours clinic, or the hospital:
- if you need to give the blue inhaler more often than every 2 hours
- if there is no improvement 30 minutes after giving 6 puffs of the blue inhaler
Watch Lachlan show how to use your inhaler with a spacer .
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No : A Cough Is A Defense Mechanism
A cough is the bodys way of defending itself, Dr. Cameron explains. If you have a runny nose and some congestion, you might get post-nasal drip, which can irritate the bronchioles and cause coughing, she says. Coughing is a way to clear the lungs and expel mucus.
Carl R. Baum, MD, a pediatric emergency physician, agrees. Coughing is good, he says. Parents get freaked out when their kid has a really bad cough, but it’s the bodys normal way of protecting itself. It keeps our lungs clear.
Dr. Cameron reads a book to her patient to put her at ease.
Breathlessness Or Difficulty Breathing
If your child is breathless or has difficulty breathing that becomes worse over a few hours, it could be a sign of an asthma attack. However, wheezing can have many causes, so it doesnt always mean your child has asthma.
Remember: always seek urgent medical advice if your child is having difficulty breathing.
Pneumonia and chest infections can also cause breathlessness and fast breathing. Children usually have a fever with these conditions.
Difficulty breathing during exercise can be a sign of asthma. Talk to your childs GP if you think your child may have asthma.
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Could My Child Have Asthma
You should see your doctor and ask about asthma if your child:
- wheezes and coughs with a cold
- wheezes and coughs after exercise
- wheezes and coughs during the night
- cannot keep up when they are running around with children of the same age
- says they are out of breath or breathless
- complains they feel tired or ask you to carry them when you go for a walk
- does not run around as much as children of the same age
These are some of the symptoms of asthma in children. But, these symptoms may be due to other less common conditions. Talk to your doctor.