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Asthma in Children

Asthma is a common childhood illness.  It is the same lung disease that adults with asthma manage, but in children, symptoms may present a little differently.  Pediatric asthma affects about 1 in every twelve children and can be a frightening experience if you don’t know what to watch out for.

What Causes Asthma

Asthma can be caused by a variety of factors.  Although we’re not entirely sure what causes asthma in children, most experts agree that it can be an inherited condition, due to an infection, or caused by environmental factors like poor air quality, cigarette smoke, or some other inhaled substance.  In some cases, an asthma attack can arise without any apparent trigger.

Other causes might include:

  • Exposure to dust
  • Exposure to pet dander (cats, dogs, or other animals)
  • Sensitivity to pollen
  • Exposure to mold or mildew
  • Sudden changes in weather
  • Viral infections

Symptoms of Asthma

When we think of Asthma, we think of wheezing and difficulty breathing followed by the pump of an inhaler.  However, there are other symptoms to be aware of, some of which may be less obvious to those unfamiliar with the condition

  • A persistent cough
  • Coughing spells that happen during exercise, or while laughing, crying, or playing.
  • A cough that doesn’t abate after a viral infection
  • Avoiding playtime or high energy sports and other activities
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Rapid breathing
  • Tightness in the chest or pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tight neck or chest muscles
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty eating or drinking

How is Asthma Treated?

Once an asthma diagnosis has been reached, your provider can begin to develop a treatment plan.  As a patient-centered medical home, developing a comprehensive plan involves taking the entire patient into account.  You and your pediatrician will discuss the best treatment options for your child.  Typically, this will involve medications, as well as a plan to determine when you should seek more immediate medical attention.

Most pediatricians will recommend a daily anti-inflammatory medication or a bronchodilator delivered via inhaler, or by a nebulizer.  Talk to your pediatrician to discover what option is right for your family.

How to Avoid Asthma Triggers

While asthma symptoms may worsen or lessen over time, there are ways to reduce the chance of an asthma attack for your child.  Avoiding triggers is a key component of managing childhood asthma.  Triggers can be nearly anything, and some may not be as obvious as others.

Steps to take::

  • Avoid cigarette smoke, especially in enclosed spaces like cars or homes
  • Regularly vacuum and dust the house and areas where your child frequently plays
  • Get an air filter
  • Be aware of animal dander.  If pet hair is a trigger, consider keeping pets out of your child’s room and play areas.
  • Regular pest control
  • Use a dehumidifier to reduce damp air and prevent mold
  • Avoid using highly scented products like soaps, candles, perfumes, etc.
  • Learn about the air quality in your area
  • Monitor fluctuations in your child’s weight
  • Heartburn is a common symptom.  Use OTC medications to help manage it.
  • Keep track of your child’s inhaler
  • Ensure your child’s vaccines are up to date.

Additionally, keeping up with regular well-child visits is the best way to help your child manage their symptoms.  Your knowledgeable pediatrician will be able to give you up-to-date advice and help you make adjustments to your routine as necessary.

We’re Here to Help

Raleigh Group is here to help parents keep their children happy, healthy, and safe.  Our experienced pediatricians have treated many cases of asthma and are ready and prepared to help you build a plan that’s right for your child.  Reach out today to schedule an appointment.