Signs Your Child Has Asthma

Did you know that 7.5% of children under age 18 in the United States have been diagnosed with asthma? Although these 5.5 million children have the same lung disorder that adults have, they may exhibit different symptoms. Young children may also have difficulty explaining their symptoms. 

At Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine in Algonquin, Illinois, Dennis Kellar, MD, and Madhu Gundavaram, MD, are asthma experts who can customize treatments to help your child manage their asthma and improve their quality of life. 

To help you better understand whether your child may be suffering from this common lung disease, we’ve curated this guide with the top signs your child may have asthma.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a common condition that causes the airways to become inflamed, causing swelling and narrowing, often with extra mucus. When this happens, it can become difficult to breathe. 

While asthma is a chronic disease, it can vary in severity. For some patients, it’s a minor inconvenience, while for others, it can be serious and interfere with everyday activities. In some cases, childhood asthma can be life-threatening. 

Although there’s currently no cure for asthma, the condition can be managed to allow your child to live a healthy life.    

What are the signs my child may have asthma?

Although 80-90% of asthmatics are diagnosed as children, it’s not always easy to know if this disease is what’s making your child unwell. Young children aren’t always able to articulate their symptoms, and asthma in children can look different than asthma in adults. 

To help you know whether or not your child could have asthma, here are the top signs to look for:

Wheezing or tightness in the chest

Most people associate asthma with wheezing, the whistling sound that occurs when people struggle to breathe in or out. While wheezing, especially after exercise, could be a sign your child has asthma, not all children with asthma wheeze. 

Furthermore, not all wheezing is indicative of asthma. Allergies, colds, respiratory infections, and even acid reflux can trigger wheezing in children. If your child frequently wheezes, they’re more likely to have asthma if:

Frequent coughing

One of the most common signs of childhood asthma is a frequent cough. If you notice your child seems to always have a cough, they could have this lung disease. What’s more? For many children with asthma, a chronic cough is the only symptom of asthma.

Another indicator of childhood asthma is coughing that occurs in certain conditions. For example, asthmatic children frequently develop a cough a night, after exercise or playing outside, when exposed to cold air, or when crying or laughing. 

Finally, asthmatic children often experience a worsening of their cough after a viral infection. If your child can’t kick their cough, be sure to describe the symptoms to your provider at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine. 

Trouble breathing

If your child complains about struggling to breathe, or if you notice your child breathing rapidly, asthma could be the cause. Many children describe this as a tight neck or tightness in their chest. You may also notice that your child’s breathing seems to be rapid. 

Tiredness or sleeping troubles

Children with asthma may frequently feel tired or have less energy during play or recess. If your child has to stop to catch their breath while playing, or if they complain about feeling weak or tired even if they’re getting plenty of sleep, it could be a sign of asthma. 

Sometimes children with asthma wake up at night as they try to catch their breath or deal with a coughing spell. It can be hard to tell if your child is waking up at night. Sometimes chronic tiredness is the only sign.  

What should I do if I suspect my child has asthma?

If you notice one or more signs of asthma, it’s important to have your child evaluated by an asthma specialist, such as the ones at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine. While asthma can be well-managed, if left untreated, it can cause serious and permanent lung damage. 

We’ll evaluate your child’s medical and family histories, review symptoms, and conduct a physical exam. We’ll also perform pulmonary function tests to get an accurate diagnosis and provide customized treatments to meet your child’s needs.  

To learn more about childhood asthma or to get treatment, book an appointment online or over the phone with Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine today. We also offer TELEMEDICINE visits to allow you to meet with us from the comfort of your own home.

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