Pediatric Asthma: Take Care of Your Child’s Respiratory Health

Apr 15, 2024

Urgent Care

Pediatric Asthma: Take Care of Your Child’s Respiratory Health

Asthma is a chronic condition in which the airways, the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs, become inflamed and narrow, making breathing difficult. It affects both children and adults. Pediatric asthma is the most common chronic childhood illness, with nearly 7.5 million children in the U.S. suffering from it. However, with the right asthma action plan for your child, you can ensure that they live an active and healthy life.

This blog discusses significant details related to childhood asthma, including its impact on children, its causes, signs and symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, and when you must consult a doctor regarding the symptoms of childhood asthma.

How Does Asthma Affect Children?

Asthma usually affects children before age 5, when their immune system is still developing. Its symptoms may interfere with your child’s daily activities, including play, sports, school, and sleep. Childhood asthma is the leading cause of children being rushed to an emergency room, being hospitalized, and missing school. It is also one of the most common reasons for missed work for parents.

What Causes Asthma in Children?

The most probable causes of childhood asthma are:

1. Genes

If either parent or someone in the family has asthma or allergies, the child likely may have asthma.

2. Environment

Several environmental factors, also known as asthma triggers, can set off an asthma attack. Also, based on different triggers, there are two major types of pediatric asthma:

Allergic Asthma: It is due to an allergic reaction caused by allergens such as:

  • Dust mites
  • Pollen from grass, trees, and weeds
  • Mold
  • Pet dander
  • Insect feces

Non-Allergic Asthma: It is caused by non-allergens, including:

  • Certain medications
  • Air pollution
  • Household chemicals
  • Colder temperatures
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Strong emotions such as shouting, laughing, and crying
  • Panic

3. Infections 

Frequent respiratory infections, such as the common cold, can cause breathing problems.

Symptoms of Childhood Asthma 

Pediatric asthma symptoms can range from mild to severe. They include:

  • Wheezing sound while exhaling
  • Gasping for air or shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Tightening in the chest 
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Difficulty in eating or sucking, in the case of infants
  • Irritability 
  • Frequent coughing spells, especially when the child sleeps, does physical activity, is exposed to cold conditions, and has a viral infection.

The symptoms worsen when the child has an asthma attack, which may develop gradually or suddenly. While a mild attack may last a few minutes, severe episodes may last from several hours to a few days. Severe asthma attacks that come without any warning can be life-threatening, so you must immediately get medical help for your child if you observe the following:

  • Severe coughing
  • Faster wheezing or gasping for breath
  • Serious breathing issues
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Retractions, during which the ribs and neck sink in while the child tries to breathe out
  • Flared nostrils while inhaling
  • Face, lips, and fingernails turning pale or blue
  • Speech incoherence

Complications of Childhood Asthma

If not managed in time, childhood asthma may lead to certain complications, such as:

  • Emergency treatment and hospitalization for severe asthma attacks
  • Frequently missed school impacts your child’s academic performance
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Fatigue
  • Impacted lung function

How is Childhood Asthma Diagnosed?

It can be challenging to diagnose childhood asthma among younger children for reasons such as:

  • Several symptoms overlap with other respiratory illness symptoms
  • The children are too small to perform the pulmonary function test used to diagnose asthma

However, for an accurate diagnosis, your child’s physician may:

  • Ask about symptoms, your child’s medical history, and family medical history of asthma, allergies, and lung infections.
  • Conduct a physical examination.
  • Recommend specific blood or allergy skin tests and lung function tests, including spirometry and chest X-rays.

For younger children unable to perform lung function tests, their doctor may suggest a trial of asthma medication in which they prescribe different medications to observe how the children respond to them.

Management and Treatment of Pediatric Asthma

Childhood asthma is chronic and needs proper management for your child to have a normal childhood. Hence, follow the “asthma action plan” given by your physician that provides information about:

  • When and how to administer medication
  • What steps to take if the symptoms worsen
  • When does your child need emergency care

Also, ensure your child has minimal exposure to potential triggers, as the doctor advises.

Pediatric Asthma Treatment 

Depending on the frequency and severity of your child’s asthma symptoms, the treatment may include:

Quick-Relief Medicines:

These are inhalers for children who have milder symptoms or feel the symptoms only after physical activity. The medicines used are:

  • Short-acting beta2-agonists (SABAs)
  • Short-acting anticholinergics
  • Systemic corticosteroids

Long-Term Medications:

These medications help children who need daily medications to control their symptoms and prevent flare-ups and include:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Leukotriene modifiers
  • Long-acting beta2-agonists (LABAs)

When to Consult a Doctor?

If your child has frequent breathing issues, is vulnerable to the common cold, and seems tired and irritable, it may be due to childhood asthma. You must consult a doctor immediately for an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.

Receive Prompt Pediatric Asthma Care at MI Express Urgent Care

Our team at MI Express Urgent Care understands the sense of urgency when it comes to getting the best medical care for your child. So, we provide pediatric urgent care services 7 days a week with extended hours at Canton and Ann Arbor, MI.

If you are looking for a medical center near you that provides prompt, comprehensive, compassionate, and quality asthma care for your child, contact us today.

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