What Is Pediatric Asthma?
Children usually love to play. But what happens when difficulty breathing gets in the way of their favorite activities?
When a child has asthma, their lungs and airways become inflamed by certain triggers like inhaling pollen or catching a cold. When these symptoms are worse than usual, it’s known as an asthma attack or flare-up. Pediatric asthma is one of the most frequent causes of emergency department visits, hospitalizations and missed school days.
At Sacramento Ear, Nose & Throat, we’ll help you and your child navigate life with this condition while providing the highest quality treatment. An asthma diagnosis can be stressful, but your family doesn’t have to manage this alone.
Does My Child Have Asthma?
The following are symptoms of asthma:
- Difficulty breathing or sleeping
- Frequent coughing triggered by viral infections, exercise, cold air or while sleeping
- A wheezing or whistling sound when exhaling
- Congestion or tightness in the chest
- Shortness of breath
What Causes Asthma?
The causes of this condition aren’t fully known, and sometimes it occurs with no apparent triggers. Factors that are potentially involved include genetics, certain types of lung infections and environmental factors like cigarette smoke or air pollution. Children with a family history of asthma and upper respiratory diseases such as sinusitis, rhinitis and reflux are most at risk for the condition.
How Is Childhood Asthma Diagnosed?
Because symptoms often overlap with other illnesses, diagnosing asthma can be difficult. Our provider will perform a physical exam and discuss your child’s symptoms and medical history. They may ask when you first noticed your child’s symptoms, if there are specific times they have difficulty breathing, if they are commonly exposed to any allergens, if anything worsens or improves their symptoms and if allergies or asthma run in your family.
Additional diagnostic tests may include lung function tests using a peak flow meter or spirometer, x-rays or CT-scan.
If your child is younger than three, a diagnosis may be delayed since asthma medications in very young children can lead to unknown side effects.
How Is Pediatric Asthma Treated?
Treatment will depend on your child’s age, severity of symptoms and asthma triggers. The goals are to prevent and reduce symptoms, as well as to provide relief during an asthma attack. Our ENT will work with your family to ensure that you and your child have a full understanding of their condition and how it is treated.
A variety of medications may be prescribed, including:
- Preventative options to reduce inflammation that causes asthma symptoms.
- Quick-relief options to open swollen airways during an asthma attack or prior to exercising.
- Allergy treatment, in cases where asthma is triggered by allergies.
Additionally, potential lifestyle remedies include using a dehumidifier if you live in a warm climate, reducing pet dander, regularly changing filters in your furnace or air conditioner and reducing exposure to cold air.
Whether your child is first showing symptoms of asthma or they’ve been diagnosed for several years, our team at Sacramento Ear, Nose & Throat is here to help them manage their condition. Soon enough, they’ll be back to playing their favorite games or sports without disruptive asthma symptoms.