Expert Care by ER Physicians

Does My Child Have Asthma?

Posted by Katie Pierson on Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Updated on: Thursday, July 19, 2018
Keywords: child asthma asthma

Asthma is the most prominent chronic disease to be diagnosed in children. More than 7 million American children have asthma. Although most people show symptoms of asthma by age 5, the condition can begin at any age. Asthma in kids can be scary, especially if your child can’t communicate what’s wrong. Also, the symptoms of asthma can change from child to child or episode to episode, making it difficult to diagnose.

With three convenient locations spread across the greater Minneapolis area, including Eagan, Vadnais Heights and Woodbury, each of our Urgency Room locations is well equipped to help with your child’s asthma. With years of combined experience, our highly trained physicians can help your child in a fraction of the time it would take at your typical emergency room.

Risk Factors For Asthma In Kids

Although experts can’t predict which children will develop asthma, they have pinpointed some risk factors that may contribute to the disease. These include:

  • Diagnosed respiratory, skin, and food allergies
  • A family history of allergies or asthma
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke before or after birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Recurrent respiratory infections
  • Obesity
  • Living in a location with a lot of air pollution

Symptoms In Kids Asthma

Diagnosing asthma in children can be difficult because symptoms might not show up until a child has an attack. Also, the signs of asthma in kids can mimic symptoms of respiratory infections. For example, in some people, the only symptom of asthma is a cough. How do you know if your child has asthma or a common cold?

The answer is to closely monitor your child’s symptoms. It may be helpful to keep a journal of symptoms and other factors, such as your child’s environment and activities each day. Note the time of day that symptoms occur and whether your child has been exposed to allergens or other triggers.

Symptoms of asthma in children may include:

  • Chronic cough
  • Cough that occurs even when your child is sleeping
  • Cough that gets worse with exposure to cold air
  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
  • Tightness, pain, or a “funny feeling” in the chest
  • Fatigue while playing
  • Trouble breathing while eating
  • Wheezing

Babies with asthma may have rapid or labored breathing. Their nostrils may flare out while they breathe, or their belly movement may be exaggerated with every breath.

They might have trouble sucking while eating, and normal activities could make them pant. If your baby is extremely pale or has a blue cast around his mouth, he may not be getting enough oxygen and you should seek medical attention right away.

How Is Asthma Diagnosed in Children?

The first step in diagnosing asthma in children is to get a detailed picture of the symptoms. A physician will look at this and your child’s medical and family history before conducting tests.

During a physical examination, a physician will listen to the child’s lungs and heart. He or she may also look for signs of allergies in the eyes and nose. An x-ray of the chest and sinuses can help doctors understand the cause of your child’s respiratory dysfunction. This may be used to rule out other issues, such as pneumonia or heart problems. Lung function tests measure how efficiently your child breathes and can usually be performed on children over age 6.

What Are Your Child’s Asthma Triggers?

Understanding your child’s asthma triggers can help prevent an attack. In some cases, allergens, such as pet dander, dust mites, grass or pollen can exacerbate asthma. Cockroach and rodent infestations can trigger asthma attacks. You should never smoke around a child with asthma.

For some children, exercise, cold air, crying, laughing, and seasonal allergies can make asthma symptoms worse. If you know what provokes an attack, you can take better precautions.

If your child has asthma, a virus can trigger a flare-up. In fact, viruses that cause respiratory symptoms are some of the most common causes of asthma attacks in young kids. Therefore, you should take all realistic precautions to prevent your child from coming down with a cold or the flu, such as insisting on proper hand washing and limiting exposure to large groups of people during peak cold and flu season.

Children should avoid contact with anyone who is sick when possible. Teach them to wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their nose, eyes, and mouth. Explain that children should never share inhalers or other breathing equipment with anyone.

When To Go To The Doctor

An asthma attack can be an urgent medical situation. If you suspect that your child is dealing with an asthma flare-up, the safest option is to see a physician. The Urgency Room lets you skip the waiting time and get your child’s asthma addressed immediately. We are here to help with your child’s asthma and any of your asthma-related questions.

Work with your doctor to create a written asthma action plan. This can help a child, and his or her caregivers, such as teachers or coaches, understand when to seek help in case of an asthma emergency. The plan should list the medications that should be used for specific symptoms. It will also indicate when to go directly to a medical facility, such as The Urgency Room.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America offers a sample asthma action plan that can help parents, doctors, patients, and caregivers understand the best way to treat a child with asthma. Although experts still don’t fully understand asthma, they believe that it is an incurable condition. However, proper education and treatment can help you manage your child’s condition as he or she grows up. If you would like to discuss your child’s asthma further, please do not hesitate to come visit us at any of our three locations. With online wait time tracking, you can plan ahead and skip the wait lines the next time your child needs care for their asthma.

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