According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 6.2 million people under age 18 have asthma. Also, asthma is reportedly the third leading cause of hospital stays for children.* Pediatrician Nudrat Nauman, MD, shares some insight on symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
Q. Is there more than one type of asthma?
Yes, there are several different types of asthma. The most common diagnoses include allergic asthma, reactive airway disease (RAD), infant asthma and exercise-induced asthma. If there is a family history of asthma or allergies, your doctor may recommend a consult with a specialist, who can do further testing to confirm diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Q. What symptoms should I watch for?
In young children, it may be hard to tell the difference between asthma and a bad chest cold. Symptoms can vary, but the most common include night coughing; rapid, labored breathing; wheezing; chest tightness; and frequent colds that are centered in the chest. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your child’s pediatrician.
Q. What causes an asthma attack?
Asthma triggers can be caused by many different factors. Grass and tree pollens, air pollution, molds, dust mites, smoke or pet dander are common culprits. Exercise-induced asthma can be brought on by physical activities and sports. Knowing triggers is the best way to alleviate a potential asthma attack.
Q. What is the best way to manage my child’s asthma?
The allergist or asthma specialist can identify your child’s triggers and create an emergency treatment plan in the event your child has a severe attack. The doctor may prescribe a quick acting medicine delivered by inhaler for emergencies, and another medication for everyday use to help minimize airway inflammation. That medication is usually inhaled through a mask attached to a nebulizer.
If you think your child might have asthma, speak to your pediatrician or to an allergist.
*Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America