Childhood Asthma

What is Childhood Asthma?

Asthma causes inflammation and spasms in the airways and is the most common chronic disease for children. The inflammation can cause bronchi to narrow, thus making it difficult for a child to breathe. If a child has a family history of asthma, he or she may be more likely to suffer from it as well. However, there are many external triggers that can cause an asthma attack. These triggers can include things like dust mites, pollution, pet dander, tobacco smoke, smoke from fires, or too much physical activity.

What are the Symptoms of Childhood Asthma?

Labored breathing, coughing, wheezing, poor physical endurance, and chest tightness are common symptoms of asthma. While an asthma attack can be caused whenever something bothers a child’s lungs, many patients have coughing spells in the very early morning or at night.

If a child has seasonal allergies or suffers from a respiratory infection, then asthma symptoms can be exacerbated.

Childhood Asthma Causes

Inherited genetics contribute to childhood asthma. The inherited trait may not be a significant cause of childhood asthma although it will increase the risk of the condition. A sensitive immune system will also increase the child’s risk to asthma.

The major causes of this condition are environmental circumstances ranging from household lifestyles to external pollutants. Both influence the production of mucus, triggering the airway linings to swell and tightening of the muscles – the reaction narrows the air passages, making it difficult to breathe.

Anyone is susceptible to asthma; the condition is more common in children reaching the age of five with a family history of asthma. Playtime can trigger an asthma attack, as when the child inhales cool dry air, the airways lose moisture faster than it can be replaced. A child’s sensitivity to tobacco smoke, common cold, changes in the weather and allergies to pollen or mold, pet dander and dust mites interferes with breathing, causing an asthma incident.

How is Childhood Asthma Treated?

Asthma symptoms aren’t always present, but a child always has the condition and can easily trigger an attack if he or she is exposed to an irritant, such as smoke. Children should identify which triggers affect them the most so that they can avoid certain locations and carry an inhaler with them.

Treatment includes

A child can visit either a pediatrician or a pulmonologist for medication, which can be taken orally or by inhalation. Bronchodilators are inhalers that relax the smooth bronchial muscles and open up air passages. Rescue inhalers can treat symptoms immediately while longer-acting inhalers are used for children with especially bad asthma. Anti-inflammatories and oral steroids may be used to reduce inflammation; oxygen therapy can also be used to provide more breathing support.

Childhood Asthma Prevention

There is no cure for childhood asthma. Sometimes, medications can prevent childhood asthma. This is a chronic disease and for some, it will continue into adulthood while others may appear to outgrow it. Precautions are necessary since the condition can reappear at any age.

Learning about the condition and the best methods for managing your child’s triggers of asthma is the best prevention. The child needs to take part in the learning phase along with family members to help understand the consequences of the environmental situations.

Your doctor may recommend breathing equipment or inhalers to reverse and calm the muscles immediately. Inhalers allow the medicine to enter the airways directly, combined with prescription pills as part of the treatment. Your doctor will schedule preventative follow up office visits and regular breathing tests.

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Last Reviewed:
September 18, 2016
Last Updated:
December 01, 2017