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.
Other Ways To Stay Well In Later Life
Studies have shown that people who keep exercising have more chance of staying healthy as they get older.
Even if your mobility isnt as good as it was or you find you get tired easily, there will be an activity you can do.
Keep to a healthy weight
Keeping to a healthy weight can lower your risk of asthma symptoms. Studies show that if youre very overweight, even losing a bit of weight, can make a difference to your asthma.
It can feel harder to shift the weight as you get older, particularly if youre less active than you were. Find out what support you can get.
If you smoke, youre more at risk from asthma symptoms and attacks, as well as COPD.
Giving up smoking not only lowers your risk, but it also means your medicines will be more effective.
Look after your mental health
If youre worried, down, or lonely, talk to someone about how you feel. Age UK has an Advice Line: 0800 169 2081.
We all need a support network of friends, family and neighbours, says Dr Andy. Share your asthma action plan, so that anyone caring for you knows what to do if symptoms get worse and who to call for help. And tell your GP or asthma nurse how youre feeling too.
You can talk to a respiratory nurse specialist on our Helpline: 0300 222 5800 . Or you can WhatsApp them on 07378 606 728
Next review due December 2023
Managing Your Asthma Well In Later Life
Continue to have regular asthma reviews
Whether youve had asthma all your life or youve been diagnosed with it as an older adult, an asthma review helps you stay on top of any changes in your symptoms.
You can make sure your asthma action plan is up to date, review your asthma medicines, and check youre taking the lowest dose possible to stay well and avoid side effects.
Track your symptoms
Keeping track of your symptoms makes it easier to spot any changes. Write down your symptoms in a diary, notebook, or on your phone and take it along to your next appointment.
Remember to make a note of anything you were doing that day or any triggers you came across – you may notice youre sensitive to new things that were not a problem before.
Dont ignore symptoms like breathlessness, says Dr Andy. Its easy to think that feeling a bit more breathless is just another sign that youre not as fit as you used to be.
But if youre feeling out of breath climbing stairs or walking uphill, see your GP to get it checked out. Breathlessness can be a sign that your asthma is not well controlled. It could also be a sign of another health condition.
Act quickly if symptoms get worse
To cut your risk of an asthma attack, take action as soon as you notice symptoms getting worse. As we get older, asthma attacks can be more severe and take longer to recover from.
Check your inhaler technique
Ask about side effects
Get help for other conditions too
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The Differences Between Childhood And Adult
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute , asthma affects more than 25 million people in the United States, or about 8 percent of the population. Seven million of them are children.
Asthma is common in childhood, but you can develop it at any point in your life. Its not uncommon for people over the age of 50 to be diagnosed with this lung disorder.
Childhood asthma and adult-onset asthma have the same symptoms, and both have similar treatments. However, children with asthma face different challenges.
Many cases of adult-onset asthma are triggered by allergies. Allergens are substances that can cause an immune reaction in people who are sensitive to them.
Children with allergies may not experience asthma from exposure to allergens when they are younger. Yet over time, their bodies can change and react differently. This can lead to adult-onset asthma.
According to the American Lung Association, of the estimated 7 million children in the United States with asthma, more than 4 million experience an asthma attack each year. Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalizations of American children age 15 and younger. Fortunately, asthma-related deaths in children are quite rare.
- difficulty sleeping
- delayed recovery from a respiratory infection, such as a flu or cold
If you suspect your childs symptoms are the result of asthma, make an appointment with their doctor. Untreated childhood asthma may have lasting impacts.
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.
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What Causes Childhood Asthma
Researchers continue to learn what causes asthma. It is not fully understood. The following things play a part:
Genetics. Asthma runs in families.
Allergies. Some allergies are more common in people with asthma. Allergies also tend to run in families.
Respiratory infections. Infants and young children who have some respiratory infections are more likely to have long-term lung problems.
Environmental factors. Irritants such as pollution and allergens are known to cause asthma.
Remission And Mortality In Childhood Asthma
Asthma remission occurs most commonly between the ages of 1421 years . However, large longitudinal studies have also shown that, among children who wheezed before age 3 years, more than 50% had stopped wheezing either by 6 years of age or by 12 years of age, depending on the study. Remission rates of childhood asthma have been reported between 16 and 60% by early adulthood, according to prior longitudinal studies . The wide variation in reported remission rates is likely due to diverse study designs, varying follow-up periods, and different study populations. In longitudinal studies, children with the following characteristics had higher remission rates: episodic asthma , milder initial asthma severity, less allergic sensitization, less allergic rhinitis, less atopic dermatitis, and male sex .
While the morbidity of childhood asthma is significant, fortunately, mortality from childhood asthma is rare with an estimated 28 deaths per million children with asthma . As with childhood asthma morbidity, there are grave racial disparities in childhood asthma mortality, and black, and Hispanic children suffer disproportionately from the highest mortality rates .
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Minimising Your Risk Of An Attack
It may seem obvious, but the best way to decrease your chance of an asthma attack is to use your medicines if you start having symptoms.
“If you no longer take medicines because you have ‘grown out’ of asthma, but notice symptoms such as breathlessness, coughing at night, a tight chest or wheezing flaring up, make sure you see your doctor to discuss whether you might need to go back on asthma medicines again,” urges Whittamore.
“Your preventer inhaler reduces the inflammation in your sensitive airways over time so you are less likely to react if you come into contact with an asthma trigger, reducing your chance of having an asthma attack or flare-up,” he explains.
Common asthma symptoms include shortness of breath, a tight chest and wheezing. All can put you at risk of a life-threatening asthma attack.
Depending on the severity of your asthma, treatment usually goes as follows:
“The most basic treatment calls for a reliever inhaler to be used as symptoms appear. When the reliever inhaler is used more than twice a week, it is recommended to move the treatment to step two,” says Antalffy.
“Step two calls for a preventer inhaler, usually used twice a day regardless of symptoms, in addition to the reliever inhaler on standby.”
If your asthma is still poorly controlled after these measures, sometimes a third drug will be prescribed alongside inhalers.
How Long Asthma Lasts For
Asthma is a long-term condition for many people, particularly if it first develops when you’re an adult.
In children, it sometimes goes away or improves during the teenage years, but can come back later in life.
The symptoms can usually be controlled with treatment. Most people will have normal, active lives, although some people with more severe asthma may have ongoing problems.
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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.
Diagnosing Asthma In Young Children
Healthcare providers are often reluctant to give a diagnosis of asthma to infants and very young children because children often cough and wheeze with colds, chest infections like bronchitis, and other conditions responsible for asthma-like symptoms.
Since there is no diagnostic test available for children younger than six years of age, making a diagnosis in this age group is more difficult than in older children. Over the age of about six it is possible for a child to have a spirometry test. This is a simple test that measures a childs airflow through the large and small airways. Results reveal if the childs airflow can be improved with medication. Reversibility of airway obstruction is a key feature of asthma. If administering a bronchodilator reverses airway narrowing significantly, the diagnosis is probably asthma.
What Is Childhood Asthma
If your child has asthma, their lungs and airways can easily get inflamed when they have a cold or are around things like pollen. The symptoms may make it hard for your child to do everyday activities or sleep. Sometimes, an asthma attack can result in a trip to the hospital.
Thereâs no cure for asthma in children, but you can work with your childâs doctor to treat it and prevent damage to their growing lungs.
What Is The Best Way To Live With Asthma
The key to good living with asthma is developing a strong partnership between patients, caregivers, and physicians. Practical steps include the following:
Make an asthma care management plan with your physician. An asthma management plan helps you understand what to do when specific situations arise. Each time you visit the physician, talk about your plan, and make any necessary changes.
Educate yourself. Stay informed about the latest developments in asthma and allergy care and treatment. Ask your physician about new medications or research findings that may relate to your care.
Get regular medical care. If you have asthma, you should see your physician at least once a year, even if your symptoms are under control. When you become sick, or if you have significant changes in your health, you should also talk with your physician about how your asthma could be affected.
Take your medicine. Your asthma medications will make you feel better and sometimes people think thats the time to stop. Its not! Use your medications as prescribed.
With good management, asthma symptoms can be controlled. Most people who develop adult onset asthma are able to lead normal lives. Expect success!
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Will They Grow Out Of It
The natural history of asthma also varies from one child to the next. Symptoms may begin at any age, may persist or stop, and then may recur many years later. The majority of young adults with asthma have had recurrent wheeze in their preschool years. However, in a large longitudinal Australian study, two thirds of children with mild intermittent asthma did not have asthma symptoms during adulthood.
Those with more persistent or severe asthma in childhood, or those who also have hayfever, are less likely to grow out of their asthma. There is also a risk that those with asthma during childhood will have a resurgence of their symptoms during adulthood and are more at risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in later life.
Young children under the age of five present a diagnostic dilemma. Wheeze is a common symptom with respiratory viral infections for infants and toddlers. They are unable to perform lung function tests because they cannot breath in the way the test requires, which can help with diagnosis of asthma in older children. Some doctors call this viral-induced wheezing, while others call it intermittent asthma which unsurprisingly leads to confusion.
Presentation Of Asthma: Adolescence
Puberty has an interesting impact on childhood asthma, specifically relating to sex. Prior to puberty, asthma risk is higher among male children. At the time of puberty, the risk of asthma is approximately equal between males and females, and after puberty, girls have a higher risk of asthma . Some of these differences could be explained by the differences in airway development between the sexes. The fetal lung is less developed in boys from 16 to 26 weeks, measured by mouth movements that reflect fetal breathing, a critical determinant of lung development. In the last 4 weeks of gestation, airway resistance is higher in males . Boys up to 10 years old appear to have smaller airways in relation to lung size as compared with girls of the same age, height, and weight . After puberty, smaller airway caliber is then observed in the female sex . The known sex differences in asthma may also be due to other factors such as hormonal effects, genetic susceptibility, immunologic response, and differences in consultation practices and health-seeking behaviors by sex .
Remission is common in adolescence, with remission rates reported at 1660% . Factors that have been implicated in an increased probability of asthma remission include mild disease and minor airway inflammation before adolescence, male sex, and the absence of allergic sensitization .
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How To Manage It
Management involves two main groups of therapies to control asthma symptoms and manage flare-ups. First, there is symptom relief during flare-ups, using reliever inhalers, which relax the smooth muscle of the airways and allow them to open up, such as salbutamol .
Second, preventer medications aim to reduce the underlying inflammation in the airways and therefore reduce sensitivity to irritants. The mainstay of preventer treatment is inhaled corticosteroids , although some children can have their asthma controlled with an oral tablet .
Newer treatments are being added to help manage certain subgroups, such as those with severe asthma or exercise-induced symptoms, by targeting specific molecules involved in the inflammation pathway that causes asthma.
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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Q: How Well Does Treatment Work For Adults With Asthma
Asthma can be more difficult to control in adults for several reasons:
- Asthma medications can be less effective later in life, particularly for those who are obese.
- Oral steroids can worsen glaucoma, cataracts and osteoporosis.
- Being on beta-blockers for heart problems can increase the severity of asthma.
- The lungs and chest walls are stiffer and the muscles supporting deep breathing are weaker in adults.
For these reasons, adults with asthma are at increased risk for flare-ups and even hospitalization.
Diagnosis Of Asthma In Children
- the wheezing happens more than once with or without an illness
- constant coughing or bouts of coughing become worse at night
- you are concerned about any breathing problems in your child.
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