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dealing with asthma in children

How To Deal with Asthma in Children

Asthma is the most common non-transmittable chronic disease in children. This disease is becoming more prevalent as the time goes by. In the USA, about 7 million children are afflicted with asthma. In this disorder, the air passageways of lungs called bronchi are narrowed down due to inflammation. Asthma causes recurring periods of coughs, breathlessness, chest tightness and wheezing.

How to Detect Asthma in Children?

The symptoms of asthma vary from one child to another. It is not necessary for a child to display all of these symptoms, and these signs may change from one episode to the next episode. Sometimes, chronic cough is the only sign displayed. Below are the possible signs:

  • Frequent coughing attacks especially during the night or when playing
  • Lethargy during play
  • Weakness and Tiredness
  • A chronic cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Intermittent rapid breathing
  • Wheezing which produces a whistling sound in the chest when breathing
  • Chest retractions

  • Chest and neck tightness

Risk Factors

There are numerous factors involved in developing asthma in children but the strongest one is the inhalation of particles which arouse allergic reactions and cause irritation to the airways. Some of the risk factors for developing childhood asthma are mentioned below:

  • Exposure to tobacco smoke before or after birth
  • An existing history of asthma and allergies
  • Repeated respiratory infections
  • Being underweight at birth
  • Eczema and other nasal injuries

Diagnosing Asthma in Children

Diagnosis of asthma in children is mainly done through clinical trials. A positive family history of asthma or allergies is a close enough indication of asthma in a child who experiences frequent coughing and suffers from breathing problems. Some of these signs may have vanished by the time a child is taken to visit a doctor so it is imperative that the parents describe the symptoms in detail to the doctor along with the frequency of the exhibition of any of the symptoms that the child displays. Apart from the medical history, a doctor may perform a physical examination on the heart and lungs of the child and observe signs of allergies. A trial of asthma medication is carried out to see if the condition improves. An improvement verifies the diagnosis. If the child is around six years of age, then a lung function test called “spirometry” may be done. The test measures the amount of air in the lungs and the frequency at which it can be exhaled out. Through the results, a doctor will be able to tell the severity of the disease. Another test that can be performed on older children is “exhaled nitric oxide” test which measures the amount of nitric oxide in the breath. A very rarely conducted test in younger children who are unable to perform the above mentioned tests is “impulse oscillometry” which measures the airway resistance.

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