Asthma is a chronic condition that affects the lungs. It is one of the most common long-term diseases in children. Dr. Alvarado, can you tell us more about asthma?
Sure, Dr. Patel. Children with asthma have it all the time, but they only have asthma attacks when something bothers their lungs, such as cold air, allergens, or infections.
Asthma in children can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms of asthma can be confused with those of other respiratory diseases. Some symptoms to watch for include:
- Coughing that is constant or is triggered by exercise or cold air
- Fast breathing, panting, or working harder to breathe
- Wheezing or a whistling sound while breathing
- Chest tightness
- Tiredness or disinterest in normal activities, such as playing
- Avoiding sports or social activities
- Problems sleeping due to coughing or difficulty breathing, and
- Rarely, very pale or blue coloring in the face, lips, or fingernails
You can help your child's provider make a diagnosis by noticing when symptoms typically occur. For example, take note of asthma attacks that happen:
- At night or early in the morning
- During or after exercise
- During certain seasons
- After laughing or crying, or
- When your child is exposed to common asthma triggers
In most cases, the causes of asthma are unknown, but there are certain factors that put some children at higher risk. These risk factors include:
- Diagnosed allergies
- A family history of allergies or asthma
- Prenatal and postnatal exposure to tobacco smoke
- Obesity, and
- Living in an area with high air pollution
Uncontrolled asthma can result in permanent lung damage. But for most children, asthma can be controlled effectively with appropriate treatment and management.