Asthma, a chronic lung disease, inflames the airways, making breathing difficult. Asthma affects approximately 5.1 million children in America, making it a leading chronic disease. It is more frequent in male children but generally reverses in adulthood.
Data shows that asthma primarily affects African American and Hispanic children and American Indian/Alaska Native populations. These groups have an exceptionally high incidence of asthma-related hospitalizations and fatalities.
Asthma can affect children at any age though symptoms typically appear before they are 5 years old and can continue until adulthood. These can be highly uncomfortable and cause recurring wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing.
While there is no cure for asthma, treatments can help improve the quality of life for asthmatic children, help them breathe better, and live more comfortably during an attack. The CDC reports that between 2001 and 2019, fewer children experienced asthma attacks. This is most likely due to the development of better treatments and awareness about the disease.
What are the Risk Factors for Childhood Asthma?
- Having a family history of asthma
- Allergens that have caused allergic reactions
- Living in environments with high air pollution
- Household molds
- Respiratory conditions
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD
- Being male
- Being African American or Hispanic
What are the Symptoms of Childhood Asthma?
When a child has asthma, he or she may have:
- Wheezing: A high-pitched whistling sound that occurs when they exhale
- Coughing: Uncontrollable coughing that intensifies at night or in the morning
- Trouble breathing (dyspnea): Their chest may feel like there is a heavy weight on it, which makes it difficult for them to breathe and carry out daily activities
- Chest tightness/pain: It may feel like a band is wound around the chest, or there may be stabbing pain that makes breathing difficult
If you suspect that your child has asthma, have them evaluated by a pediatric pulmonary specialist. Early intervention will aid in symptom management and help prevent any long-term effects.
Why is Treatment Important?
Getting a childhood asthma diagnosis allows your doctor to provide the appropriate action plan for your child. This will help you help your child better manage their symptoms, as well as help, reduce the severity of asthma attacks. Treatment can also help reduce the risk of complications from asthma, such as lung damage or respiratory failure.
Finally, treatment can improve your child’s quality of life. It’ll make it easier for them to fall asleep, breathe easier through the night, and recover faster from a cold or virus. This means fewer school days are missed and more time playing and participating in other physical activities that the whole family may enjoy.
How is Childhood Asthma Treated?
Pediatric pulmonary medicine is a specialty of medicine that deals with the treatment of pediatric patients. Pediatric pulmonologists are trained physicians who diagnose and treat asthma, cystic fibrosis, and other lung diseases in children. They can also help diagnose asthma in kids.
In order to help your child manage their symptoms and perform better in daily life, your pediatric pulmonary expert should prescribe a “Asthma Action Plan.” It will take into account your child’s medical background, the severity of their asthma, and how active they are.
This plan will include the following:
- How and when to give your child asthma medication
- What to do if asthma symptoms worsen
- When to take your child to the ER
Asthma is a common childhood condition that can be managed with medication and other therapies. Maintaining routine checkups can help your doctor evaluate how effectively the prescribed treatment meets your child’s needs. Additionally, managing asthma triggers at home can also benefit your child. Keep your home clean and free of allergens, and practice basic hygiene to reduce symptoms.
Contact Newport Children’s today to schedule an appointment with our pediatric pulmonologist, Dr. Reda.