Childhood Asthma: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Asthma Action Plan

When you are exposed to triggers of a certain nature, for example airborne pollens, the airways and the lungs become inflamed in children with childhood asthma. Other respiratory infections and also common cold can flare-up childhood asthma. Sleep, school, sports and play will be affected due to the daily bothersome effects caused by childhood asthma. Asthma attacks that are dangerous can occur due to asthma mismanagement in some children.

Childhood Asthma

Unique challenges do occur in cases of childhood asthma despite the fact that its effect is on children is not any different from that of adults. Emergency department visits is being led by childhood asthma and also missing of school and even hospitalization. Despite the fact that asthma for children can be cured, the symptoms can proceed until adulthood. Damaging of the growing lungs can be prevented and your child’s asthma symptoms can be kept under control when the right treatment is administered.

Causes of Childhood Asthma

What actually causes childhood asthma has not been fully discerned. The immune system will be overly sensitive in most children with childhood asthma. The factors that are involved include:

  • Inherited traits
  • Certain respiratory infections at a tender age
  • Exposure to certain factors of the environment like smoke from cigarette and living in highly polluted areas.

Certain lung triggers are prone to occur due to swelling of the airways and lungs which give rise to mucus production. This is because of increased sensitivity of the immune system. It might be take quite some time for the trigger to react which makes it difficult for the trigger to be identified. The trigger differs from each child and may include:

  • Viral infections like common cold
  • Air pollutant exposure like tobacco smoke
  • Pet dander, pollen mold or dust mite allergies
  • Physical activity
  • Change of weather or cold air.

Sometimes there are no specific triggers for asthma symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Childhood Asthma

The signs and symptoms of childhood asthma include:

  • Intermittent cough that is frequent.
  • Sound that wheezes and whistles while exhaling.
  • Breath shortness.
  • Tightness or congestion of the chest.
  • Pain in the chest in younger children particularly.

Other signs and symptoms for childhood asthma are:

  • Sleeping troubles owing to breathing shortness, wheezing or coughing.
  • Wheezing and coughing bouts which worsens with every respiratory infection like flu or cold.
  • Bronchitis or delayed recovery following a respiratory infection.
  • Limited play or exercise due to trouble breathing.
  • Poor sleep might cause fatigue during the daytime.

Wheezing that is recurrent and triggered by a virus affecting the respiratory system is the first sign of childhood asthma. Respiratory allergic related asthma is more common as children are growing older.

The signs and symptoms of asthma differ in children and may be better or worse over time. Despite the fact that wheezing is associated commonly with asthma not all asthmatic kids wheeze. Chest congestion or a lingering cough can be other signs and symptoms that your child might have.

To realize the cause of your child’s signs and symptoms are asthma related or not, may be difficult. Respiratory problems such as bronchitis can cause symptoms that resemble those of that asthma exhibit like long lasting or periodic wheezing.

Risk Factors for Childhood Asthma

The likelihood of your child developing childhood asthma can be increased by the following factors:

  • Tobacco smoke exposure
  • Asthmatic family history
  • Former allergic reactions like such as skin reaction, allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and food allergies.
  • Obesity
  • Low birth weight
  • A chronic stuffy or running nose (rhinitis)
  • Infections of the lower respiratory tract like pneumonia
  • Inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis)
  • Heartburn (GERD, gastro esophageal reflux disease)
  • Boys.

Complications Caused by Childhood Asthma

A number of complications can be caused by childhood asthma includes:

  • Asthma attacks that are severe requiring hospital care or emergency treatment.
  • The narrowing of airways permanently (bronchial tubes.)
  • Fatigue and poor sleep
  • Symptoms interfering with play activities and sports.

Tests to Diagnose Childhood Asthma

Childhood asthma diagnosis can be hard. The doctor of your child will take into consideration the frequency and the nature of symptoms and also rule out other infection by conducting tests and discerning the actual cause of the symptoms.

Children can be infected by other conditions that resemble those that are caused by childhood asthma. The worst case scenario is the fact that these infections often accompany asthma. The doctor of your child must determine whether the symptoms are caused by other infections or asthma or both the other condition and asthma. The conditions that cause the same symptoms like those caused by childhood asthma include:

  • Rhinitis
  • Sinusitis
  • GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease) or acid reflux
  • Abnormalities of the airway
  • Dysfunctional vocal chord
  • Infections of the respiratory tract like RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) and bronchitis.

Detailed description of the health and symptoms of your child will be asked by the doctor. Medication tests for childhood asthma might be necessary for your child.

  • In children aged 6years and above, asthmatic diagnosis procedure to test is the same as that of adults. The rate at which your child can exhale is measured so as to ascertain the functionality of the lungs (spirometry). This asthmatic condition for your child can be conducted after asthma medication intake, exercise or at rest. Skin allergic test may be required also.
  • In younger children who are younger than 6 years, inaccuracy of the lung test due to age makes diagnosis difficult. With time, some children develop symptoms like those of asthma. The detailed information provided by your child and you is relied on, by the doctor.

See the doctor immediately of you have suspicion that your child has childhood asthma. Daily activities like sports, sleep, school and sports will not be disrupted if early diagnosis and treatment that is proper is administered. Asthmatic attacks that are life-threatening can also be prevented.

Wait-and-see approach can be used by doctors for children having asthmatic symptoms and if they are below 3 years old. This is due the unclear long-term effects of medication for asthma on young children and infants. Prescription to monitor change can be tried if your kid has severe and frequent wheezing episodes.

Allergic Childhood Asthma through Skin Allergy Test

An allergy skin test might be recommended by your doctor if your child looks like he/she has allergic triggered childhood asthma. Signs of a reaction that are allergic are observed after the skin has been pricked with extract of the substance that commonly causes allergy, when conducting a skin test. It will be ascertained if your child has allergy to mold, dust mites, animal dander or other allergens. The asthma triggers can be prevented by taking the necessary steps (avoid triggers) with the help of this information.

Treatment Options for Childhood Asthma

The aim of treating childhood asthma is keeping the symptoms at a controlled state all the time. When asthma is well-controlled it implies that the child has:

  • No symptoms or minimal symptoms of childhood asthma.
  • Few or negative childhood asthma flare-ups.
  • Unlimited exercise or physical activities.
  • Using recue (quick-relief) inhaler like albuterol minimally.
  • Few or negative medication side effects.

Treatment of an ongoing childhood asthma attack and prevention of signs and symptoms is what entails treating childhood asthma. Inflammation that causes symptoms in the airways of your child can be prevented through long-term control medication. A swollen airway which limits breathing is opened by quick-relief medication. A combination of quick-relief medication (via an inhaler held in the hands) and long-term control medication are used by majority of children having childhood asthma that is persistent.

Allergic treating medications are needed in some cases. What works best in keeping childhood asthma under control, asthma triggers, age and symptoms of your child will determine the right medication your child will get.

  1. Long-Term Control Medication for Childhood Asthma

    Daily dosage is needed in the medication of childhood asthma in most cases. Long-term medications include:

    • Inhaled Corticosteroids. Inhaled corticosteroid is a long-term medication for asthma is the most commonly prescribed. Maximum benefit may be attained after your child uses this medication for several days or weeks. Slowed growth in children has been linked to the long-term use of the medication but this is a minor effect. Severally, the benefits accrued from a controlled asthma outweigh risks of any potential side effects.
    • Leukotriene Modifiers. This prevents asthma symptoms for duration of 24 hours. Suicidal thoughts, depression, hallucination, aggression and agitation are some of the psychological reactions that have been linked to these medications, in rare cases. In case of unusual reaction by your child seek medical advice immediately.
    • Combination Inhalers. LABA (Long-Acting Beta Agonist) and inhaled corticosteroid is the content of these medications. Severe asthma attacks have been linked to long-acting beta agonist, in some situation. An inhaler containing corticosteroid must be present when giving your child LABA medication, in this regard. Childhood asthma that has not been successfully controlled by other medication can use these combination inhalers.
    • Theophilline. This is a pill taken daily which helps with opening the airways. Breathing is easier because theophylline (theo-24, Elixophilline etc.,) relaxes airways’ muscles. It was used often in the past than nowadays.
  2. Treating Childhood Asthma That is Induced by Allergy

    Allergic treatment may benefit your child if the childhood asthma is worsened or triggered by allergies. Allergic treatments include:

    • Omalizumab (Xolair). People with severe asthma and allergies use this medication specifically. The immune system is reduced to substances that causes allergy like pet dander, dust mites and pollen. Injection is how Xolair is administered after every 2 to 4 weeks.
    • Allergy, medication. These include nasal and oral sprays decongestants and antihistamines and also corticosteroid, ipratropium and cromolyn nasal sprays.
    • Immunotherapy (allergy shots). Injection for immunotherapy are administered generally once in every week for a few months and the once every month for a duration of 3 to5 years. The reaction of the immune system of your child, to some allergens, will be reduced gradually.
  3. Inhaled Medication Devices for Childhood Asthma

    Long and short-term control medications are inhaled in a measured dosage of medication in childhood asthma.

    • Hand-held device that releases powder which is fine or pressurized metered dose inhaler is fit for teens and older children.
    • In order for toddlers and infants to get the correct amount of medication, a nebulizer or a face mask which is attached to an inhaler with a metered dosage.
    • Nebulizer is a machine tuning liquid medication to droplets that are fine and it needed for babies to use. The correct medication dosage is delivered by the nebulizer via a mask worn by your baby while breathing normally.

Asthma Action Plan for Childhood Asthma

The doctor of your child will write childhood asthma action plan with you. If your child have childhood asthma that is severe then this is might prove important in its treatment. You and your child can be helped by an asthma action plan:

  • Ability to know the time of adjusting to long-term control medications.
  • Keeping tabs on how positive the treatment is working.
  • Know what to do in case of childhood asthma attacks and the ability to know the signs.
  • Know when to seek emergency help or when to call the doctor.

Peak flow meter (hand-held device for measuring how well one can breathe) can be used by your child depending on her/ his age for childhood asthma. You will be able to remember the steps to take in case a certain level is reached when measurements of peak flow are taken, by using an asthma action plan that is written. Categorizing the asthma of your child when using peak flow measurements into zones like green, yellow and red zones may be attained via an action plan to combat the symptoms of childhood asthma. The corresponding of these zones will be based on symptoms that are well controlled, somewhat-controlled and symptoms that are poorly controlled. It makes it easier to track the asthma of your child.

After some time triggers and symptoms of childhood asthma of your child will change. Adjustment to medication when necessary is crucial and need careful observation of your child and closely working with the doctor. Stepping down treatment (lowering your child’s dosage) will be recommended by your doctor if the control of symptoms is positive for duration of time. Stepping up treatment (increasing, changing or adding medication) will be wanted by the doctor when the asthma of your child is not controlled well.

Is Childhood Asthma Outgrown by Some Children?

For some adults and teens, the childhood asthma may disappear. The symptoms might return in a couple of years later. Children with severe childhood asthma may not outgrow the asthma.

Explaining the cause of breath shortness, coughing and wheezing in young children to be signs and symptoms caused by some other illness or by asthma is difficult. Another condition might also seem like asthma for example bronchiolitis, pneumonia or bronchitis. As the child is growing older, these, and asthma-like conditions improve typically.

Outgrowing chances for children with severe asthma is less. Wheezing that is persistent and allergic history (to furry animals especially) lessens your child’s chances outgrowing childhood asthma.

Diagnosing and treating childhood asthma at an early stage is important. Manage your child’s asthma by working together with the doctor. Help your child to avoid asthma triggers, adjustment to medication and tracking symptoms through the use of a written action plan for asthma. Involve your child with the development of asthma action plan as he/she gets older.

Prevalence of Childhood Asthma

Asthma prevalence in children and younger adults: According to health Survey by WHO (World Health Organization) on patients aged 18-45, 4.3% confirmed asthma diagnosis by the doctor, 4.5% reported that they were taking asthma medicine or a doctor’s diagnosis and 8.6% reported experiencing whistling or wheezing breath (asthmatic symptoms) in the following 12 months. Australia, Brazil, and Western Europe are where the highest prevalence. Different survey approach was used by World Health Survey to ISAAC’s which had conducted survey about the same period bringing difference s in the findings. People who aged18-45 were residing in 70 countries totaling 177,496 are where questionnaires was used to measure asthma prevalence.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 20, 2017

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