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HOW TO TELL IF YOUR CHILD HAS ASTHMA — RECOGNIZING THE SIGNS

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Asthma is a lifelong lung condition that makes it harder for people to breathe. But how can you differentiate between asthma and the typical breathlessness that comes with poor fitness?

WHAT IS ASTHMA?

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that makes a person's airways especially sensitive to certain triggers — like allergens, physical activity, anxiety, air pollution, and more!

But when triggered, what exactly happens to the airways?

  • The lining of the airways becomes inflamed and swollen
  • The muscles become tighter around the airways
  • The airways produce mucus that's thicker than usual

All of these things make it more challenging for your child to pass air in and out of their lungs, creating a narrow passageway through which the air can move.

However, difficulty breathing isn't the ONLY marker of childhood asthma.

WHAT ARE SIGNS OF ASTHMA IN A CHILD?

Although asthma symptoms look different from child to child, here are some of the most common signs you'll see:

  • Shortness of breath while active, exercising, excited, or anxious
  • Wheezing, whistling sound while breathing
  • Persistent coughing — either constant or returning from time to time
  • Tight feeling in the chest (often described as a "tummy ache")
  • Noticeable use of entire body to breathe
  • Difficulty keeping up energy or catching breath while exercising
  • Coughing while excited or laughing
  • Speaking in short, abbreviated sentences
  • Symptoms worsening at night, often making it challenging to sleep

If your child has asthma, they may only experience a couple of these symptoms — or they may struggle with them all. At the end of the day, it depends on the child.

For many kids, asthma symptoms come and go in phases. Your child may be really struggling to breathe one week, and the next, they may be just fine.

BUT, before you go and try to give your child an asthma diagnosis, set up an appointment with your Pediatrician. Breathing problems and coughing can suggest various conditions other than asthma, and only a medical professional can make that call.

If you notice your child having difficulty managing daily activities or sleeping at night, it's time for a visit to your trusted pediatric doctor.

WHICH CHILDREN ARE MORE AT-RISK FOR ASTHMA?

Children are more likely to develop asthma if they…

  • Have a family history of asthma,
  • Struggle with allergies,
  • Spend a lot of time around tobacco smoke,
  • Live in a place with lots of air pollution,
  • Or suffer from other health problems (like sinus issues or excessive weight).

Although not every kid who has allergies also has asthma, many forms of childhood asthma are allergy-related. Pay special attention to the timing and circumstances of your child's symptoms. If they struggle more during allergy seasons, your child likely has allergy-induced asthma.

In other cases, a child's breathing problems can flare up when they partake in a certain activity — like running or something else active — or when they find themselves in an anxiety-driving situation.

Regardless, many of these asthma risk factors are either preventable or treatable.

THINK YOUR CHILD MAY HAVE ASTHMA?

Schedule an appointment with your family pediatrician. From diagnosis to treatment to follow-up, the Carolina Pediatrics team will provide you and your child with the care you need! Reach out to us through the Carolina Pediatrics patient portal.

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