It is difficult to determine if a child has asthma. Asthma is diagnosed with a medical test that measures the airflow in and out of the lungs. Young children might not be able to complete this test which requires blowing strongly into a tube. Since infants and toddlers could not describe how the feel, parents must be alert for the symptoms.
If asthma or allergies runs in the family, it is likely that the child will also acquire them. The doctor will request for blood or skin tests to determine if a child has allergies that can trigger the asthma symptoms. These tests can be carried out at any age.
What are the symptoms?
In most cases, children with asthma experience symptoms before they turn 5 years old. Among young children, it might be difficult for both parents and even doctors to recognize that the symptoms are caused by asthma.
The indications of asthma in children can range from nagging cough that persists for days or weeks to abrupt breathing emergencies. The common symptoms include the following:
- Wheezing or whistling sound during exhalation
- Coughing at night
- Frequent colds that settle in the chest area
- Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing that causes the skin that surrounds the neck or ribs to pull in tightly
The child might only have one of these signs and symptoms or several. In case the symptoms recur, it might indicate that the child might have asthma. In addition, the symptoms worsen around the usual asthma triggers such as irritants present in the environment or allergens such as pet dander, pollen as well as dust mites.
Whether the symptoms are mild or severe, it is always serious since the mild symptoms can rapidly become life-threatening. A child with asthma should receive proper treatment. The treatment usually depends on the severity and frequency of the symptoms. In most cases, two types of medications are prescribed:
- Quick relief – used to manage coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. This medication must be with the child at all times to be used at the first sign of the symptoms.
- Long-term control – used to manage the inflammation of the airways. These are taken daily in order to prevent asthma symptoms and attacks.
In case medications are not effective or the child could not avoid the triggers, it is vital to determine if the symptoms are instigated by allergens such as pollen or pet dander. In such cases, allergy shots (immunotherapy) might be an option and usually recommended.
The doctor can create an asthma action plan for a child with asthma. This will serve as a guide so that the parent will know when the asthma is under control, when to change medications and when to seek medical care. In addition, children with asthma should receive a flu shot every fall season.