Not all children who wheeze have asthma. Not all children with asthma wheeze.
What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic condition where the bronchial tubes become inflamed or swollen in response to certain triggers. When the immune system gets flared up the muscles of the airway tubes constrict (get smaller), the inside lining of the airway swells, and mucus is secreted in the airway—all leading to a variety of symptoms.
Symptoms can be mild or very disruptive, can occur sporadically or daily, and can be different for each child with asthma. Often there is a family history of asthma, but a child’s symptoms may be different from an adults. Common symptoms include:
- Whistling or wheezing sound when breathing out
- Shortness of breath
- Chest congestion or tightness
- Trouble sleeping due to cough or wheeze
- Cough or wheeze that gets worse with a cold
- Shortness of breath with exercise or playing
What you can do
If you think your child may have some of the symptoms of asthma make an appointment. Early diagnosis will help control acute symptoms and a care plan will be developed to control flare-ups. If your child has been diagnosed follow your care plan. Start medication such as a bronchodilator (Albuterol, Ventolin, ProAir) at the first sign of symptoms. You may have been instructed to also begin a steroid (Flovent, QVar, Pulmicort) or have a nebulizer at home to begin treatments. If you are giving medications and your child is continuing to have symptoms make an appointment to be seen as soon as possible. Read here about how to use an inhaler and spacer.
Asthma in Children – Medline Plus
Asthma in Children and Teens – American Lung Association
Asthma Basics – KidsHealth (video of an asthma flare up)
Allergy and Asthma Network, Mothers of Asthmatics Founded in 1985 to help families affected by allergies and asthma AANMA is the leading nonprofit family health organization dedicated to eliminating suffering from allergies and asthma. Their web site is loaded with helpful information. They publish the magazine Allergies and Asthma Today.