Asthma in Children
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What is asthma?
Asthma makes it hard for your child to breathe. It causes swelling and inflammation in the airways that lead to the lungs. When asthma flares up, the airways tighten and become narrower. This keeps the air from passing through easily and makes it hard for your child to breathe. These flare-ups are also called asthma attacks or exacerbations.
Asthma affects children in different ways. Some children only have asthma attacks during allergy season, when they breathe in cold air, or when they exercise. Others have many bad attacks that send them to the doctor often.
Even if your child has few asthma attacks, you still need to treat the asthma. If the swelling and irritation in your child's airways isn't controlled, asthma could lower your child's quality of life, prevent your child from exercising, and increase your child's risk of going to the hospital.
Even though asthma is a lifelong disease, treatment can control it and keep your child healthy. Many children with asthma play sports and live healthy, active lives.
What causes asthma?
Experts do not know exactly what causes asthma. But there are some things we do know:
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of asthma can be mild or severe. When your child has asthma, he or she may:
Many children with asthma have symptoms that are worse at night.
How is asthma diagnosed?
Along with doing a physical exam and asking about your child's symptoms, your doctor may order tests such as:
Your child needs routine checkups so your doctor can keep track of the asthma and decide on treatment.
How is it treated?
There are two parts to treating asthma, and they are outlined in the asthma action plan. The goals are to:
If your child needs to use the quick-relief medicine more often than usual, talk to your doctor. This is a sign that your child's asthma is not controlled and can cause problems.
Asthma attacks can be life-threatening, but you may be able to prevent them if you follow a plan. Your doctor can teach you the skills you need to use your child's asthma action plan.
What else can you do to help your child's asthma?
You can prevent some asthma attacks by helping your child avoid those things that cause them. These are called triggers. A trigger can be:
It can be scary when your child has an asthma attack. You may feel helpless, but having an asthma action plan will help you know what to do during an attack. An asthma attack may be bad enough to need urgent medical care. But in most cases you can take care of symptoms at home if you have a good asthma action plan.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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