|The Asthma Corner
: How do I know my child has asthma?
The symptoms of asthma include shortness of breath, wheezing,
and/or coughing. Sometimes these symptoms occur alone, sometimes
in different combinations. Other respiratory illnesses have similar
symptoms. But in children with asthma these symptoms usually keep
coming back over several months or even years. So it's important
to also recognize a pattern or history of symptoms.
The most common symptom is wheezing, which is a high pitched breathing
sound, especially noticeable as the child breathes out. Other
indicators of a more serious episode include rapid breathing,
prolonged exhaling, or exaggerated use of the muscles in the chest
and neck to assist breathing. It's important that parents and
care-givers are able to recognize asthma symptoms, to help determine
severity and the need for medication, and to help monitor the
effectiveness of the child's treatment program.
Still, a child can have asthma even though he never wheezes. In
fact about 5% of asthmatic children have a cough as their only
symptom. It's also possible that a child who has frequent or prolonged
"cold" symptoms has asthma, even though they've yet
to have a recognizable asthma attack.
For those younger than 6 years of age, the diagnosis of asthma
is usually based on a history of the child's symptoms. In older
children, special breathing tests can help in the assessment of
asthma. But because most children develop asthma within the first
two years of life, a history of symptoms is often all we have
to rely on.
Children often develop a pattern of symptoms that parents can
learn to recognize. Recognizing these patterns can help you and
your doctor determine effective treatment. Remember however, that
asthma symptoms change and new ones can appear in the same child.
As time goes by you'll be able to recognize the signs of an on-coming
attack earlier! In the meantime, to understand your child's asthma
symptoms, you should understand what happens to the body during
an asthma attack.
Other Asthma Corner
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designed to be an educational aid only. It is not intended to
replace the advice and care of your child's physician, nor is
it intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. If
you suspect that your child has a medical condition, always
consult a physician.
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