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What is asthma in children?

Asthma is a chronic disease marked by episodes of cough, wheezing and breathing difficulty. Approximately half the cases of asthma are recorded in children. Children are more prone to asthma owing to their narrower airways, which makes asthma more serious in children, as compared to adults. Hence, detecting and treating asthma in children is crucial. Many children get relieved of of asthma by the time they enter adolescence.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

Symptoms of asthma can be seen rather early on in children, often even before they turn 5. While the symptoms are fairly pronounced, it may be hard to conclude that it is really asthma. Different children may experience a range of symptoms, the most generic of them being:

  • Persistent cough
  • Wheezing
  • Frequent colds
  • Constriction in the chest, resulting in breathing trouble or rapid breathing

What are its main causes?

The main causes of asthma include:

  • A variety of allergens like animal dander, dust, pollen and mould
  • Exercise and high altitude
  • Cold climate and/or changes in the weather
  • Infections like cold and flu
  • Pollutants and irritants including smoke

Symptoms are usually more pronounced early in the morning or late at night.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

The doctor obtains a detailed medical history including episodes of breathing trouble at birth and a family history of asthma. A physical examination of the heart and lungs is then conducted. Doctors may also advise a lung function test which will measure the lung capacity and the amount of air breathed in and out.

Treatment for asthma is usually two-folded:

  • Immediate relief: This is immediate treatment for instances when an asthma attack occurs. Doctors usually prescribe inhalers which are meant for use as soon as a symptom is experienced. Immediate relief is also aimed at treating coughing and wheezing.
  • Long-term treatment uses medications like steroids and beta agonists to reduce inflammation in the airways and provide a clearer passage for breathing.
  • In addition, doctors may suggest a close watch for prevention of exposure to allergens and potential triggers of asthma attacks. In some cases, allergy shots may also be given.
  1. Medicines for Asthma in Children
  2. Doctors for Asthma in Children
Dr. Rajesh Gangrade

Dr. Rajesh Gangrade

Pediatrics
20 Years of Experience

Dr. Yeeshu Singh Sudan

Dr. Yeeshu Singh Sudan

Pediatrics
14 Years of Experience

Dr. Veena Raghunathan

Dr. Veena Raghunathan

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Dr. Sunit Chandra Singhi

Dr. Sunit Chandra Singhi

Pediatrics
49 Years of Experience

References

  1. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology [Internet]. Milwaukee (WI); Asthma in Children
  2. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Asthma in Children
  3. Wim M. van Aalderen. Childhood Asthma: Diagnosis and Treatment. Scientifica (Cairo). 2012; 2012: 674204. PMID: 24278725
  4. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Asthma in children. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention
  5. Better health channel. Department of Health and Human Services [internet]. State government of Victoria; Asthma in children

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