Asthma in Children

What is asthma in children?

Asthma is a long-term (chronic)
lung disease that causes your child’s airways to become sensitive to certain things
(triggers). Several things happen to the airways when a child is exposed to
triggers:

  • The lining around 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 hard for air to go in and out of your child’s lungs and
causes asthma symptoms.

What causes asthma in a child?

Experts don’t know the exact cause of asthma. They think it is partly
passed down through families. But it can also be caused by many other things such as the
environment, infections, and chemicals.

Which children are at risk for asthma?

A child is more likely to get
asthma if he or she:

  • Has family members with asthma
  • Has environmental allergies, food
    allergies, or eczema
  • Is around tobacco smoke
  • Is around air pollution
  • Has another health problem such as
    sinus problems and being overweight

What are the symptoms of asthma in a child?

Symptoms can occur a bit
differently in each child. Children with asthma have times when they have few, if any
symptoms. They also have times when symptoms flare up. Symptoms may include:

  • Cough that is either constant or comes
    and goes
  • Wheezing or whistling sound that is
    heard while your child is breathing
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of
    breath while your child is active
  • Chest tightness
  • Tiredness
  • Cough at night
  • Noisy breathing

The symptoms of asthma can look
like other health conditions. Have your child see his or her healthcare provider for a
diagnosis.

How is asthma diagnosed in a child?

To diagnose asthma, your child’s
healthcare provider may recommend these tests:

  • Spirometry. This test checks lung
    function. It uses a device called a spirometer. This test can be done in young
    children, including babies. But it is most often done in children who are age 6 or
    older. 
  • Peak flow monitoring
    . A peak flow meter is used to measure
    the amount of air a child can blow out of the lungs. This measurement can be done at
    home. It is often helpful for day-to-day monitoring of asthma symptoms.
  • Chest X-rays. This diagnostic
    test uses energy beams to make images of internal tissues, bones, and organs on
    film.
  • Allergy tests. Allergy tests can show
    if your child has allergies that may be causing asthma or making it worse.