Does Asthma Run In The Family
Asthma, a chronic lung condition that affects the airways, can occur in people of all ages. In some cases, asthma symptoms can be mild and are well controlled with asthma medications. For others, symptoms are more severe and can have a debilitating effect on daily life and work. Asthma and other atopic conditions can run in the family, meaning if you have a family history of the condition, you are more at risk to developing it.
Theres no cure for this bronchial condition, but it can be effectively managed with modern treatments, and research continues to reveal more about asthma causes.
Read on to discover if asthma is genetic or environmental and if theres any truth in the idea that asthma can run in families.
Fast Facts About Asthma And Children
Asthma is one of the most common chronic childhood illnesses.
Nine million U.S. children under 18 have been diagnosed with asthma.
Asthma is a leading cause of school absences.
In a classroom of 30 children, two or more children are likely to have asthma.
From 1980-1994, the rate of asthma in children under the age of five increased more than 150%.
In the year 2000, 4.6 million children under age 18 were seen in physicians offices and hospital clinics for asthma treatment, and more than 728,000 children under age 18 had asthma-related visits to the emergency department. That same year, at lest 214,000 children under 18 were hospitalized due to asthma.
What Are The Symptoms
Symptoms of asthma can be mild or severe. When your child has asthma, he or she may:
- Wheeze, making a loud or soft whistling noise that occurs when the airways narrow.
- Cough a lot.
- Have trouble sleeping because of coughing and wheezing.
- Quickly get tired during exercise.
Many children with asthma have symptoms that are worse at night.
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Reducing The Burden Of Asthma
Asthma cannot be cured, but good management with inhaled medications can control the disease and enable people with asthma to enjoy a normal, active life.
There are two main types of inhaler:
- bronchodilators , that open the air passages and relieve symptoms and
- steroids , that reduce inflammation in the air passages. This improves asthma symptoms and reduces the risk of severe asthma attacks and death.
People with asthma may need to use their inhaler every day. Their treatment will depend on the frequency of symptoms and the different types of inhalers available.
It can be difficult to coordinate breathing using an inhaler especially for children and during emergency situations. Using a spacer device makes it easier to use an aerosol inhaler and helps the medicine to reach the lungs more effectively. A spacer is a plastic container with a mouthpiece or mask at one end, and a hole for the inhaler in the other. A homemade spacer, made from a 500-ml plastic bottle, can be as effective as a commercially-manufactured inhaler.
Access to inhalers is a problem in many countries. In 2019, only half of people with asthma had access to a bronchodilator and less than one in five had access to a steroid inhaler in public primary health-care facilities in low-income countries .
How Is Asthma Diagnosed
Along with doing a physical exam and asking about your child’s symptoms, your doctor may order tests such as:
- Spirometry. Doctors use this test to diagnose and keep track of asthma in children age 5 and older. It measures how quickly your child can move air in and out of the lungs and how much air is moved. Spirometry is not used with babies and small children. In those cases, the doctor usually will listen for wheezing and will ask how often the child wheezes or coughs.
- Peak expiratory flow . This shows how much air your child can breathe out when trying his or her hardest.
- A chest X-ray to see if another disease is causing your child’s symptoms.
- Allergy tests, if your doctor thinks your child’s symptoms may be caused by allergies.
Your child needs routine checkups so your doctor can keep track of the asthma and decide on treatment.
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Asthma And Family History
Numerous studies have found that your family history can be a risk factor for the development of asthma. If one of your parents or siblings has asthma, then youre more likely to have it too. If both your parents have asthma, then this risk increases further. Youre also more likely to have other related atopic conditions, such as eczema, hay fever or food allergies.
This doesnt mean that youll definitely develop asthma if other members of your family have it, just that the genetics predispose you to a greater risk. Nor does it mean that you wont develop the condition if your relatives are all free of asthma.
Association Between Childhood Asthma And Copd
Children with asthma have an increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in adulthood. Specifically, it has been shown that children who smoke tobacco and also have asthma are at increased risk for developing low lung function and COPD as adults, when compared to smokers who did not have asthma in childhood .
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Risk Factors For Asthma
Doctors do not completely understand why some children develop asthma, but a number of risk factors are recognized:
Inherited and prenatal factors
Most children who are having an asthma attack and 90% of children who have been hospitalized for asthma have a viral infection . Children who have bronchiolitis Bronchiolitis Bronchiolitis is a viral infection that affects the lower respiratory tract of infants and young children under 24 months of age. Bronchiolitis usually is caused by viruses. Symptoms include… read more at an early age often wheeze with subsequent viral infections. The wheezing may at first be interpreted as asthma, but these children are no more likely than others to have asthma during adolescence.
Diet may be a risk factor. Children who do not consume enough of vitamins C and E and omega-3 fatty acids or who are obese may be at risk of asthma.
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.
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Get Help For Special Concerns
Special things to think about in treating asthma include:
- Managing exercise-induced asthma. Exercise often causes asthma symptoms. Steps you and your child can take to reduce the risk of this include using medicine immediately before exercising.
- Managing asthma before surgery. Children with moderate to severe asthma are at higher risk of having problems during and after surgery than children who do not have asthma. Before any surgery is done, make sure your child’s surgeon knows that your child has asthma.
- Taking care of other health problems. If your child also has other health problems, such as inflammation and infection of the sinuses or gastroesophageal reflux disease , he or she will need treatment for those conditions.
Its Difficult To Say For Sure Why People Get Asthma But Thanks To Research Were Clear About Some Of The Risk Factors That Make Asthma More Likely
What causes asthma is different to what triggers asthma:
- The causes are the underlying reasons why someone gets asthma in the first place.
- Triggers are things like dust mites or pollen that can make asthma symptoms worse.
Here we look at what causes asthma, and where its possible for you to lower the risk. The good news is that some of these risk factors are things you can do something about.
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Do Men Or Women Have Higher Rates Of Asthma
- Women are more likely to have asthma than men. 9.8 percent of women have asthma, compared to 6.1 percent of men.1
- Women are more likely to die from asthma than men.7
- Boys are more likely to have asthma than girls. 8.4 percent of boys have asthma, compared to 5.5 percent of girls.1
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. . 2019 National Health Interview Survey data. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved from:
Ferrante, G., & La Grutta, S. . The Burden of Pediatric Asthma. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 6.
Zahran, H., Bailey, C., Damon, S., Garbe, P. and Breysse, P. . Vital signs: Asthma in children United States, 20012016. .
National Center for Health Statistics. . National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey . U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from:
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. . Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project . U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from:
Treatment For Asthma Emergencies In Children
An asthma attack can quickly become an asthma emergency, but if you take quick action, you can reduce the risk of this happening. So, if the symptoms of an asthma attack appear, follow your childs asthma action plan.
If your child is experiencing a severe or life-threatening asthma attack, call triple zero for an ambulance and then start asthma first aid.:
- Sit the child upright.
- Give 4 puffs of reliever medication , taking 4 breaths for each puff. Use a spacer and mask if one is available.
- Wait 4 minutes if the child still cannot breathe normally, give 4 more puffs.
- Continue to give 4 separate puffs of reliever medication, taking 4 breaths for each puff, every 4 minutes until the ambulance arrives.
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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.
It’s Not Easy To Quit Smoking
As much as well, quit! can roll easily off the tongues of non-smokerscome on, its not like you havent considered itwe all are aware that it is not as easily done as it is said to quit any addiction. I mean, even scale it back to trying to check your smartphone less frequentlythat is a habit, a compulsion even, and theres not a biological reason for the addiction like there is with smoking cigarettes.
So, this isnt a lecture for smokers: you already know what those labels on the cigarette packages say, and you already know its bad for your asthma, and your lungs in general.
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Which Children Are At Risk For Asthma
Certain factors raise the risk of asthma in children:
- Being exposed to secondhand smoke when their mother is pregnant with them or when they are small children
- Genetics and family history. Children are more likely to have asthma if one of their parents has it, especially if its the mother.
- Race or ethnicity. Black and African Americans and Puerto Ricans are at higher risk of asthma than people of other races or ethnicities.
- Having other medical conditions such as allergies and obesity
- Often having viral respiratory infections as young children
- Sex. In children, asthma is more common in boys. In teens, it is more common in girls.
Asthma Expert Professor John Price On The Questions To Ask
John Price, professor of paediatric respiratory medicine at Kings College London, answers the questions often asked by parents of children with asthma.
What do you think triggers my childs asthma?The triggers vary from child to child. In some children, colds trigger their attacks. In others, it can be exercise. Allergies may also be a big factor, and excitement, e.g. laughing and crying, may be another factor. Unfortunately, excitement at birthday parties is a well-known trigger of attacks.
Which treatments are available and how should my child take them? Some children should only take treatment when they wheeze. Others need to take treatment more regularly as a preventative measure, as well as when they wheeze. Children with persistent symptoms tend to need regular treatment to prevent asthma.
Where possible, your childs asthma should be treated with an inhaler. There are a couple of very good treatments that can be taken by mouth, but generally, the best treatments are taken with an inhaler. There are different inhalers for different ages, so ask your doctor or nurse which type of inhaler is most appropriate for your child.
Are the treatments safe? Largely, the treatments taken to relieve wheezing are very safe. The most commonly taken treatment is an inhaled steroid. If this is taken in a large dose, it can have side effects. If you’re worried about the dose your child is taking, talk to your doctor or nurse.
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Obese Children Are More Likely To Develop Asthma Claims Study
Obese Children Are More Likely To Develop Asthma, Claims Study
According to research, air pollution and obesity are closely linked. Around 39.8% of children in Delhi were obese as compared to 16.4% in Kottayam and Mysuru where the quality of air is better. The researchers claim that obese children are 79% more likely to develop ‘asthma’. The burden of asthma is also much higher… a prevalence of nearly 40% among boys, said Arvind Kumar, founder of Lung Care Foundation.
The Links Between Air Pollution And Childhood Asthma
Researchers have long linked asthma a serious and life threatening chronic respiratory disease that affects the quality of life of more than 23 million Americans with exposure to air pollution. Air pollution can make asthma symptoms worse and trigger asthma attacks. The estimated six million children in the United States with asthma are especially vulnerable to air pollution.
EPA studies the link between air pollution and asthma so that action can be taken to reduce the health burden associated with the disease. Childhood asthma research at the Agency covers a variety of topics including the impact of certain air pollutants on asthma, how exposure to air pollution may contribute to asthma, and which children may be particularly vulnerable.
Three recent studies on childrens asthma are highlighted below.
African American Adolescents are More Vulnerable to Air Pollution Than Other Children
This study reported that low levels of outdoor ozone were associated with respiratory changes and other outcomes in African American children with difficult-to-treat asthma, even when they used asthma therapies such as inhalers to modify the adverse effects of air pollutants.
The study concluded that ozone may impact at risk populations even at low concentrations and that the impact is more widespread than just respiratory outcomes.
Exposure to Coarse Particulate Matter Linked with Asthma in Children
Air Pollution May Impact DNA Associated with Asthma
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Global Alliance Against Chronic Respiratory Diseases
The Global Alliance against Chronic Respiratory Diseases contributes to WHOs work to prevent and control chronic respiratory diseases. GARD is a voluntary alliance of national and international organizations and agencies from many countries committed to the vision of a world where all people breathe freely.
Other Childhood Asthma Clinical Presentations:
In clinical practice, there are different clinical presentations of symptoms that point to an underlying diagnosis of childhood asthma, and clinical improvement can occur in response to starting a child on preventive asthma therapy, such as a daily-inhaled corticosteroid and use of bronchodilator therapy for acute episodes.
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What This Means For You
In young children, it can be difficult for parents to recognize when symptoms are a result of asthma. If symptoms like coughing or wheezing keep occurring, this can be a sign of the condition. If anyone in your family has asthma or allergies, there’s more of a chance that your child may be diagnosed with the condition too.
What Can Trigger Asthma In Children
Its important to be aware of the things in your childs environment that tend to make asthma flare. The ways in which children react to asthma triggers vary. Some children experience symptoms only in response to a combination of triggers. For others, exposure to a single trigger may be the cause of escalating asthma symptoms.
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Eczema And Allergies May Increase Your Childs Risk Of Developing Childhood Asthma
A recent study cited by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology notes that children with eczema and allergies, such as hay fever, are seven times more likely to develop asthma by age 3 than children without either condition.
Because its often impossible for very young children to describe how theyre feeling, medical experts like Dr. Soos rely on a combination of diagnostic measures to identify asthma. This often includes a detailed discussion with parents about your childs symptoms as well as your own health history since allergies, eczema, and asthma tend to run in families.
Other factors that increase your childs risk of developing asthma include:
- Exposure to environmental pollutants
- Inhaled substances, such as secondhand cigarette smoke
- Frequent upper respiratory illnesses