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Asthma and Kids

If you are in the Salt Lake City Utah area and you can schedule an allergy doctor appointment or contact us with any of your allergy related questions. Asthma in children can be easy to miss. A chronic cough may be the only symptom in some kids. Symptoms may be seasonal—due to pollens and hay fever. A smoggy day triggers some kid’s asthma. Some kids don’t show symptoms at all unless they’re sick, when an everyday cold brings on coughing or other symptoms that last for weeks. Symptoms of Childhood Asthma can differ from adult symptoms, and may come on gradually. Yet when an asthma attack does hit, if you’re unprepared it can be fatal. 

Your Child May have Asthma if he/she has one of the following symptoms

  1. Recurrent cough (sometimes the only sign of asthma)
  2. Wheezing (breathing sounds labored and there might be a whistling sound as the air goes in and out of the lungs)
  3. Bad Colds. You notice when your child gets a cold it usually goes to the chest, causing congestion and coughing. It seems to take longer for your child to get better than other kids.
  4. Allergies (kids with allergies are more likely to develop asthma. If your child does have allergies, and doesn’t take medication to control symptoms, this increases their chance of getting asthma.)
  5. Chest congestion (even when they don’t have a cold)
  6. Chest pain (they may say their chest hurts)
  7. Shortness of breath (your child might have less stamina while exercising, playing, or laughing)
  8. Fatigue, tiredness (your child seems sleepy often, yet you know he/she usually gets enough sleep)
  9. Child avoids exercise
  10. Nighttime coughing. Child coughs in the night, or doesn’t sleep through the night for unapparent reasons (it may be due to mild breathing restriction and discomfort)
  11. Frequent school absences

Being Little only makes it Harder

The majority of children diagnosed with asthma are under the age of five—80% of children who will get asthma have had symptoms by that time. But often symptoms just look like a cold or allergies. Most of children under the age of 5 don’t have the vocabulary to tell an adult what’s wrong. They need adults looking out for them, watching for symptoms they can’t explain. Older kids developing asthma may experience most of their symptoms at school, during gym class or at recess, when parents aren’t around. These kids may want to avoid exercise that makes them feel sick. At school, children may be afraid of being “wimpy” so they don’t complain to teachers or coaches when they can’t catch their breath. Some children may only have symptoms during pollen season—symptoms like congestion and coughing that just seem like hayfever. Even when kids are successfully diagnosed with asthma, recent studies show that childhood asthma is likely to get out of control. A recent study showed that 4 out of 5 kids with asthma don’t manage it effectively, and their daily lives are being unnecessarily affected and controlled by asthma. Childhood asthma rates continue to rise—now more than 6 million children in the U.S. have asthma. That’s 9% of children nationwide. Race doesn’t seem to have an affect on risk factor, though poverty and low education increase the chances that a child’s asthma will not be properly treated, or that it will lead to fatal asthma attacks. Be particularly on the alert for asthma symptoms if your child lives in a home where there is secondhand smoke, has chronic infections, or has genetic relatives who have asthma. 

Risk factors for Developing Asthma

  1. Frequent respiratory infections and ear infections
  2. Low birth weight
  3. Parent with asthma or allergies (most likely if mother has asthma)
  4. Allergies
  5. Living in a large urban area
  6. Living in an inner city area (even more risk than large urban area)
  7. Exposure to secondhand smoke (if a parent, babysitter, or visitor smokes. The risk is greater if someone smoke in the home)
  8. Overweight
  9. Exposure to certain chemicals on a regular basis (such as lawn chemicals, farming, hairdressing)
  10. Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD) GERD is a disease that causes stomach acid to build up in the esophagus. Children with GERD are more likely to develop asthma than other children
  11. Exposure to environmental pollutants

Asthma at School and Daycare

You won’t always be nearby when your child has an asthma attack, so it’s critical that you inform your child’s school and/or daycare providers of his/her condition. Your child’s teacher should also be told, personally. Ask your child’s doctor to give you written instructions for dosage and frequency of medications. Give a copy of these instructions to your child’s school office, teacher(s), school nurse, and daycare providers. If your child is not old enough to use medication alone, make sure there are teachers and nurses or other staff who can do this properly. Keep an inhaler in the child’s backpack if they will self-administer, otherwise keep one in the school office or with your child’s daycare provider. With proper care, your child should be able to engage in the activities he/she enjoys. If you notice your child avoiding activities excessively or missing school frequency, schedule another appointment with your doctor or allergist. It may be time for your child to change medications or dosages. With your doctor’s help, you and your child can manage asthma. 

Controlling Childhood Asthma 

Although asthma and allergies are separate, there is a relationship between them. If your child has asthma, there’s a good chance that he/she also has allergies. Some cases of asthma are not allergy-related, but most are. There are many common allergens and activities that are likely to cause asthma. Although not all of these may apply to your child, if you’re unsure of the cause of your child’s asthma, try eliminating all that you can. Once your child has had an allergy test performed by an allergist, you will know which allergy triggers are most important to avoid. An allergist can also perform a test that measures your child’s lung capacity and general lung performance. This test is a simple breathing test. The child is asked to exhale into a chamber, which measures the lung capacity. Often doctors don’t perform this test on children under the age of 5 or 6, since it takes an older child to understand the directions and control their breathing. By avoiding as many asthma triggers as possible, you can lessen your child’s frequency of asthma attacks. So—keep the inhalers handy, but try to eliminate as many of your child’s triggers as possible. Some triggers, like getting sick, are impossible to eliminate. Others, like exercise, still have benefits when engaged in safely. Exercise strengthens the lungs, and can be used to help control asthma. This is one reason why people with asthma are benefited if they keep in shape. 

Triggers of asthma may include:

  • Colds and viruses (some children only have symptoms when they are sick. Other children may have worse asthma attacks when they’re sick.)
  • Pollen (some kids only have asthma during hay fever season, during the spring and fall. Keep windows shut during pollen season—usually spring and fall. Have your child store shoes and outerwear in a hall closet rather than in his/her bedroom.)
  • Air pollution (inversions, smog, and other air pollutants can trigger asthma attacks)
  • Dust and dust mites (put a hypo-allergenic cover on your child’s bed and pillow if they have a dust allergy)
  • Mold (this can be a year-round asthma-trigger. If you must use a humidifier, clean it daily. Limit other potential mold growth areas around the yard, and don’t’ let your child play in leaves if they have a mold allergy)
  • Perfumes
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Pet dander (keep pets outside of the house if possible. If this isn’t possible, keep pets outside your child’s room)
  • Cockroaches
  • Exercise
  • Temperature changes, especially cold air (keep your child’s mouth covered by a scarf in winter)
  • Food you child is allergic to
  • Sulfites (found in canned, frozen, dehydrated foods; in alcoholic beverages; in shrimp; and in processed grain foods such as crackers and cookies)
  • Mediations, including ibuprofen
  • Heartburn
  • Temper tantrums (they might develop a wheeze or a cough after tantrums)
  • Strong odors
  • Chemicals

Disclaimer: The allergy information on this website is strictly general information and should not be taken as official advice. Please schedule an appointment with an allergy doctor in order to get a proper and full allergy diagnosis. This article was developed by Utah Allergy Associates of Utah and Adaptivity Pro Web Design

Phone: (801) 263-8700

Phone: (801) 282-8700