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Dec 2023

Asthma in children: Symptoms, causes and diagnosis

Posted By Suborna Fermi Posted on Dec 06, 2023

Asthma is a very common lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways, which makes it hard to breathe. You have to control asthma as it can cause various complications, especially in children.

What is childhood asthma?

Asthma is a chronic lung disorder that impacts the airways. Your airways help to carry air in and out of the lungs. When you have asthma, your airways swell and narrow, as a result of this your lungs cannot get enough air which makes it hard to breathe.

With breathing issues, you may also have chest tightening, wheezing, and coughing. Certain triggers can worsen the symptoms, and lead to asthma attacks. Asthma attacks can appear very fast or slowly, but it can be life-threatening.

You may develop asthma at any age. However, it is most commonly developed in childhood when your immune system is developing. Most children with asthma experience their first symptoms by the age of 5.

Why are children more likely to develop asthma?

Researchers believe there are many factors that can lead to children developing asthma. The factors include:

  • Exposure to certain allergens, including air pollution, dust, and secondhand smoke.
  • Not having enough childhood illness that helps in the development of the immune system.
  • Lower rates of breastfeeding, restricts the baby from receiving essential immune substances.

What are the symptoms of asthma in children?

The symptoms of asthma may vary from person to person. However, the symptoms may vary from episode to episode in the same person. Asthma symptoms in children may include:

  • Frequent coughing, especially when your child is laughing or playing.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Less energy while playing
  • Chest tightening, which your child may describe as their chest is hurting
  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Retraction (When the area between your child's neck and ribs shrinks, it is a sign that your baby is having difficulties breathing)

When an asthma attack occurs, the symptoms get worse. These attacks may appear quickly or slowly. Sometimes, these attacks can be life-threatening. If you notice your child having the following symptoms then seek medical help immediately. The warning signs include:

  • Severe coughing
  • Serious breathing issues
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Turning pale or bluish in face, lips, and fingernails
  • Trouble speaking or inability to speak at all

How is asthma diagnosed?

Diagnosing asthma in children is difficult, especially if they are younger than 6 years. This is because, at a very young age, asthma symptoms can be mistaken for other respiratory illnesses. Also, not all children will experience asthma symptoms. Your child's pediatrician may diagnose asthma by examining your child’s symptoms, medical history, and family health history.

After that, your child’s pediatrician may order certain diagnostic tests to confirm asthma diagnosis. Doctors generally prescribe a lung function test, skin allergy test, and chest X-ray. There is no permanent treatment for asthma. The treatment of asthma includes managing the symptoms of the condition.