Asthma In Children
Asthma is a fairly common medical condition in children. In fact, it affects approximately 6 million children in the U.S. alone. This chronic disease of the airways can be a distressing diagnosis for a child with repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and nighttime or early morning coughing. But, the good news is that with proper management through medications and/or behavioral adaptations and trigger avoidance, your child can live a fully active life with little limitations.
What is asthma?
Asthma affects the airways (the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs). These become swollen and narrowed in asthma by inflammation, constriction or tightening of the smooth muscle in the bronchioles, and mucous plugging. These mechanisms cause many issues from coughing to trouble breathing. Because children have smaller airways than adults, asthma often affects them more severely than it would an adult.
Symptoms of asthma
Symptoms that may indicate your child has asthma include wheezing or a whistling sound when breathing out, coughing, and trouble breathing (including shortness of breath and chest tightness). These symptoms may be at their worst soon after waking up or during the night, during an illness, or during or following physical activity.
Your child’s pediatrician will be able to give a diagnosis of asthma, but your child may be sent to specialized doctors such as a pulmonologist or allergist as needed. Your child will likely be prescribed a medication known as a bronchodilator (to reduce the muscle constriction in the bronchioles) with or without a steroid inhaler (to reduce inflammation in the bronchioles). These help open the airways of the lungs to make breathing easier and provide relief from the symptoms of asthma. Your child will likely be given medication to take daily as well as medication to take during an asthma attack. Behavioral changes will also be necessary, such as avoiding known triggers of asthma like secondhand cigarette smoke or exposure to allergens.
An asthma attack is a serious issue. If your child is experiencing an asthma attack, he or she may experience gasping for air, trouble speaking because of breathing problems, and difficulty breathing to the point that their abdomen visibly is sucked in under the ribs with each breath. If your child experiences an asthma attack, give them their prescribed medication such as a rescue inhaler immediately. But, if you are concerned about how your child is breathing, he or she should be evaluated by a medical professional immediately.
By keeping up with any treatments and with regular doctor visits, your child’s asthma can be managed and not interfere too much with their day-to-day life. If you have any questions or concerns, see your child’s pediatrician or bring them in to MVP Pediatric and Urgent Care where we have extensive experience evaluating and treating children with asthma.