Childhood Asthma

Asthma in children can be very hard to diagnose, or even determine if a child has asthma.  Asthma though is the leading cause of chronic illness in children.. It cannot be cured, but it can be controlled.  The goal for kids with asthma is to control their symptoms for a normal life. Seven million children are affected by asthma and are increasing even more today.  Most children have symptoms before the age of five, and will most likely have asthma if they present symptoms by age seven. Fifty percent of children will have decreased symptoms by the time they have hit adolescents.  

Signs & Symptoms

Many things can look like asthma in a child, even a common cold.  Sometimes children can get sickness induced asthma. From sinus infections leading to asthma or frequent respiratory infections.  Other things that may play into your child getting asthma are nasal allergies, low birth weight, or exposure to tobacco. Symptoms to look out for are frequent coughing or chronic coughing.  Chronic coughing is when your child will cough so much that they cannot catch their breath. Rapid breathing is another sign of asthma and wheezing. Wheezing is when your child breathes with a whistling or rattling noise as a reaction to the air obstruction.  Chest tightness or your child feeling as though their chest hurts is another symptom. Also your child may complain of tightened neck or chest muscle soreness. Shortness of breath can occur. If your child is presenting any of these symptoms you will need to consult your doctor.  Your doctor will have to do some tests to figure out the best treatment for your child.


If you believe your child may have asthma whether it is just sickness induced or true full time asthma when you go to the doctor they will run some test to make sure.  The doctors will be first inclined to take a family history, where they will see if asthma runs in the family. Secondly they will run a physical exam. Though sometimes by the time you get to the doctor symptoms will not be there so the doctors will rely on parents or guardians to help describe what the symptoms look like and how often they are happening.  Some tests they will run are X-rays; to determine sinus infections or respiratory infections, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). If your child is a little older doctors may do a spirometry test. Which is when you breathe into a spirometer to show air functions. Sometimes asthma can be caused by allergies, so your doctor will try and find what triggers your child’s asthma. Hopefully after they identify your child having asthma they will have a treatment plan.


Treatments can include something as easy as avoiding triggers.  Avoid smoke inhalation which stops the asthma attacks from happening.  Other times you may have take asthma drugs, such as an inhaler or liquid meds that you would take in a nebulizer.  Older children may be given a metered dose inhaler with spacer to give the inhalant medicines. Some common asthma drugs are albuterol, cromlyn, or singulair.  

The Goal of asthma treatment in children is not to cure, for asthma doesn’t have a cure, but to make it so your child can live a healthy normal life, staying out of doctor’s offices or emergency rooms.  To make sure they can make it through a day without attacks and make it through the night symptom free. With the right treatment your child will be able to engage in sport activities without any difficulty.  Eventually the goal is to get the medicine weaned off of your child to where it is the lowest dose possible to treat and maintain their symptoms. Consult a doctor if you believe your child may have asthma.



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