Symptoms of Asthma – Children Treatment Options

Asthma is one of the most common health conditions found in young children. Symptoms usually develop by age five and can manifest in unsettling ways. It’s painful for parents to watch their children gasp, wheeze and cough their way through recurrent bronchitis and other breathing problems. Fortunately, because asthma is so common among young children, it is a well-studied health condition with many options for treatment.

Because the symptoms of asthma can mimic other respiratory problems, it’s often under-diagnosed. Many parents may write it off as a case of bronchitis or a viral infection, but asthma is a chronic condition caused by inflammatory lung disease. Common characteristics of asthma are obstruction, inflammation and hyper-responsiveness. Inflammation of the airway caused by lung abnormality causes the contraction of muscles, production of mucus, and swelling. The air passages of the lungs narrow as the airways overreact to certain triggers, such as animal dander, dust, pollen, mold, cockroaches, and certain foods or sulfites found in preservatives. Other irritants: strong odors and sprays, such as those found in perfume or household cleaners; chemicals such as coal or talcum powder; changing weather conditions; and tobacco smoke. Contrary to popular myth, asthma attacks are not triggers by anxiety or stress – they are caused by physical or environmental conditions. In addition environmental triggers like those listed above, physical conditions such as respiratory infections or sinusitis can also cause irritation in the lungs.

One of the hallmark indicators of an asthma attack is a whistling or wheezing sound. This is caused by the swelling of the inner lining of the airways and a rush of air through the narrowed passageways. Air passages can further be compromised by an excess of mucous. Other common signs of an asthma attack: shortness of breath, especially at night; chronic coughing that is worse at night or early in the morning; coughing that occurs when exposed to cold or dry air; and chest tightness, which usually accompanies one of the other symptoms.

Asthma attacks are typically progressive, which means they get worse if left untreated. It is vital that children with asthma be treated by a doctor so they can be equipped with the necessary meds to prevent a full-on attack. In most cases they will be given an inhaler; in more severe situations, a round of allergy shots may be required. It’s also important to receive a valid diagnosis because asthmatics often have to avoid certain over-the-counter medications which can increase or aggravate symptoms. Diagnoses are fairly easy to make. If you suspect your child suffers from asthma, visit an allergist to distinguish their symptoms from other potential disorders. The physician will measure your child’s lung function and conduct a series of allergy tests. Chest X-rays and bloodwork may also be required.

Should you receive a positive diagnosis, don’t panic. Asthma can be monitored and treated to ensure your child’s health is maintained. By understanding exactly where the wheezing and whistling comes from, you can move forward with adequate treatment.

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