Childhood Asthma: Symptoms, diagnosis, and therapy
What is asthma?
Asthma is a condition that can cause your airways to become narrow and swollen, leading to the production of extra mucus and making it hard to breathe. When an individual experiencing an asthma attack cannot breathe, they may begin to make a wheezing sound. For many, this is a dreadful and scary experience, especially for young children who do not understand the situation at hand. Parents must work with their child’s pediatrician so that their child can have a successful therapy plan to combat asthma attacks.
While asthma varies from person to person, there is a list of symptoms to look out for when you suspect your child may be suffering from asthma. The common symptoms include:
- Loudly exhaling or making a wheezing sound after very minimal physical activity.
- Out of breath
- Chest pain or tightness
- Coughing attacks are aggravated when experiencing a virus such as; the flu or a cold.
- Trouble sleeping due to shortness of breath and coughing episodes.
Please note: The three main reasons for asthma flare-ups may be due to; exercise, chemical irritants, medical conditions, or allergies.
If you suspect your child may be suffering from asthma, contact their pediatrician immediately. The following is a list of some tests that your child may have to take when being diagnosed with asthma:
- Lung function tests: Lung function tests, also known as spirometry tests help pediatricians diagnose asthma in children, even though they are used in adults as well. Spirometry tests help measure your lung functions by measuring the amount of air you inhale, the amount of air you exhale, and how quickly you exhale that air.
- Exhaled nitric oxide test: If your child still does not have an accurate asthma diagnosis after a lung function test, their pediatrician may recommend an exhaled nitric oxide test. This test will measure the amount of nitric oxide gas that is exhaled from your child’s breath. The nitric oxide test takes only about five minutes and it involves placing clips on your nose and a mouthpiece on to exhale and inhale. Your child’s pediatrician will use the results from this test to determine if there is a possibility that your child is suffering from asthma.
Although asthma cannot be cured, there are ways to control symptoms associated with this condition. Asthma therapy will also vary depending on the severity and history of the patient. Ultimately, the goal for all of our patients is that their asthma stays under control with few or no side effects from medications. Some treatment plans can involve:
- Medications: Some asthma medications may take days and even weeks to take full effect. If your child has been prescribed asthma medication, please monitor them closely and keep in contact with their pediatrician for any alarming signs or symptoms.
- Inhalers: Inhalers, also known as bronchodilators, are medications that are breathed in through the mouth to allow the patient's lungs to open up.
- Limited physical activity: Your child’s pediatrician may recommend that you restrict your child’s physical activity while they are anticipating an official diagnosis. Assuring that your child has a proper diagnosis before allowing them to play sports or other physical activities will help keep them safe. If your child does not have a proper diagnosis and they are not being treated, they are at risk of having a life-threatening asthma attack.
At the offices of SuraMed Health Center PA, we help you diagnose and treat your child’s asthma. If you have questions or concerns regarding your child’s health or their current asthma condition, please contact us to schedule your child’s appointment today.