Julie A. Kauchina, DO
Does your child complain about not being able to breathe when leaving a soccer or basketball court?
Do they snore after playing with a pet?
Do they cough continuously after being outdoors in the cold?
These are signs that may indicate that your child is one of millions in the United States suffering from asthma, a chronic airway disease that can cause children to have difficulty breathing.
If you suspect your child has asthma, consult a pediatrician or allergy and asthma specialist to evaluate, treat, and create an asthma control plan to prevent and control the attacks.
Distributed in childhood
Asthma is an inflammation and narrowing of the airways, often producing excess mucus, which makes it difficult to breathe.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, asthma is common in childhood, according to which 10% to 15% of elementary school children in the United States have or have had the disease.
Although it is unclear why some children develop asthma, studies have found some predictors of the disease, including:
• Inhalation, food and skin allergies such as eczema.
• Family history of allergies or asthma.
• Prenatal or postpartum exposure to cigarette smoke.
• Living in areas with high air pollution.
• Obesity is possible.
Wheezing is not the only symptom
While wheezing is commonly associated with asthma, you don’t have to wheeze to have asthma. Other signs and symptoms that may occur periodically may include:
• Persistent cough that worsens with a cold or lasts longer than usual after the onset of cold symptoms.
• Cough or shortness of breath that causes the child to wake up during sleep or in the morning.
• Frequent breathing.
• Shortness of breath and / or chest tightness during exercise.
• Lack of desire to play sports, dance or other physical activities.
• Young children may complain that their breasts “hurt” or feel “funny”.
• Feeling unable to take a deep breath.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, asthma attacks are most often caused by allergens and colds. Common allergens include:
• Dust and dust mites
• Dandruff pets
• Cockroaches and rodents
Non-allergic triggers, such as cold air, secondhand smoke, temperature fluctuations, exercise and polluted air, can also cause asthma symptoms.
Diagnosis and treatment
In the diagnosis of asthma, a detailed medical history is critical. Asthma in children is sometimes difficult to diagnose, especially at an early age. Your doctor may ask you to describe the symptoms as well as when and where they occur.
Do you notice any patterns? For example, do you experience symptoms after visiting a friend’s home where there is a dog or cat? Do they occur almost every time a child catches a cold? Or do they occur after running on the street?
Determining what is causing the symptoms is one of the most important steps toward an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
In addition, an allergy test or, depending on your child’s age, a lung function test may be recommended to treat your child’s asthma.
Treatment for bronchial asthma includes medication, education, and environmental control. Asthma medications usually focus on long-term treatments to control the condition and prevent attacks, as well as quick treatments to quickly reduce symptoms when they occur.
Control drugs, most often low-dose inhaled steroids, are commonly used daily to stop asthma attacks before they occur. The National Institutes of Health’s Asthma Treatment Guidelines recommend that children who have symptoms more than twice a week or wake up more than twice a month because of their symptoms use controlled medications.
Controller medications may also be recommended at certain times of the year or in certain situations that are known to cause asthma symptoms in your child, such as during the spring allergy season or if your child has a cold.
Rapid relief medications, such as albuterol, are taken for short-term relief and act quickly to open the airways and restore normal breathing.
Asthma Action Plan
If your child is diagnosed with asthma, it is important to work with your doctor to develop a written plan of action to combat asthma to help cope with the condition. In general, the plan should include:
• Information about treatment, such as what medications to take and when.
• List of possible triggers.
• Early symptoms and ways to deal with them.
• How to initially cope with an asthma attack.
• If you need to call a doctor or go to the emergency room.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology note that all people caring for your child should have a copy of the Asthma Action Plan.
In most cases, you can treat your child’s asthma at home in consultation with your doctor. However, if your child’s symptoms are severe or worsening, or the medication is not working, seek immediate help.
Although childhood asthma can be a serious condition, you and your child will be able to breathe easier if you identify triggers, seek treatment, and take action.
To find a doctor associated with Penn Medicine Princeton Health, call 888-742-7496 or visit www.princetonhcs.org.
Julie A. Caucina, DO, is certified in Allergy and Immunology and is a member of Penn Medicine Princeton Health’s medical staff.