The statistics for the number of children with asthma are alarming; according to the CDC, roughly one in every twelve children under the age of seventeen suffer from the condition. While no one is certain of the cause or origin for asthma in children or adults, specialists and doctors speculate that a number of things contribute to the development of the condition, including prior respiratory infections, mothers who smoke during pregnancy and a family history of allergies or of asthma itself.
Infants under the age of six months also have a high likelihood of having acute asthma episodes if they have previously contracted other viruses.
Since children, especially infants, are less able to– in some sense– articulate their symptoms, it can be difficult for parents or doctors to give a proper diagnosis. The bronchial tubes and air passages in children are much smaller than those in adults and can easily become inflamed. Other respiratory infections and conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia can also mimic the symptoms of asthma. There are, however, several signs you can look for if you suspect your child is suffering from asthma.
Shallow breathing or shortness of breath, fatigue, chronic coughing or wheezing, especially when participating in physical activity, can all be signs and symptoms of asthma in your child. Physical characteristics of asthma can manifest as cyanosis, which is a discoloration of the skin due to inadequate circulation. If your child’s nostrils flare or widen when they are trying to take in air, or their abdominal muscles pull their skin tightly against and under their ribs during breathing, it may be time to schedule a visit with your Primary Care Physician.
The use of lung function tests, as well as allergy and blood tests, are sometimes required for further information in order to make an asthma diagnosis. Specialists such as an Allergist or Pulmonologist may be part of a child’s asthma treatment. The doctor may also simply prescribe breathing medication to see how your child responds in place of the more rigorous testing.
While none of this is ideal or pleasant for children, the chances of your child having an asthma attack or episode increase without the implementation of rescue and control breathing medication. Your child may be prescribed a rescue inhaler for emergency situations or episodes, a control or time-release medication to help reduce inflammation in the airways, and or a nebulizer machine to assist with breathing– all of these methods might not only help reduce your child’s chances of suffering a major asthma attack, but also reduce their chances of long-term lung and bronchial damage.
If your child can’t seem to catch their breath on a regular basis, is losing sleep from difficulty breathing, or you hear wheezing and chronic coughing, take action and schedule an appointment with your Primary Care Physician. Though your child may have to endure some testing, it is adamant that you get the proper diagnosis and treatment now to prevent damage in the future so that your child lives a long, healthy life.