Recognising The Signs of Asthma In Children

Asthma is a health condition found in both adults and children, involving the blockage of the airways, obstructing the passage of air to the lungs. In certain chronic cases, asthma can even be fatal. The good news is that it can be managed successfully. The trouble with asthma is that it can be challenging to diagnose. It may be confused with bronchitis or another respiratory tract illness (RTI). Diagnosing asthma presents particular challenges, particularly in children, and special care is required to manage it.

The sooner asthma is diagnosed in a child, the sooner the treatment can begin, allowing the condition to be successfully managed. Otherwise, a child’s life can be greatly disrupted by this condition. It causes distress to the child, parental tension, emergency hospital visits, and disruptions in the child’s education. Successful management of asthma can significantly reduce these distressing problems.

Symptoms of Asthma

How do we recognise asthma? The most typical way could be through the diagnosis of an RTI. For example, a child has an alarming cough. The doctor examines the child and finds an RTI. An antibiotic is prescribed, along with a cough syrup. However, three weeks later, the cough is still present, so the child is not responding to treatment. Or perhaps the cough doesn’t sound as bad as it did. So the parents carry on somehow. One day, a fit of violent coughing happens, and the child experiences breathing difficulties. Perhaps it’s only then the parents realise that what they thought was an RTI might be something else. This can cause terrible guilt in parents. They feel bad that they didn’t insist on asthma treatment for their child. But how could they have known? Keep in mind that asthma symptoms resemble the symptoms of RTIs like bronchitis.

Checklist of Asthma Symptoms

  • Coughing – The typical symptom of so many respiratory illnesses. Look out for a cough that doesn’t appear to respond to treatment.
  • Wheezing – This is a whistling sound made by the airways as they tighten. A doctor can hear wheezing with a stethoscope, but even people standing beside the child can hear it. Remember, though, that some people, children included, can have asthma without audible wheezing.
  • Tightness of Chest – This is a feeling one gets when the airways are constricted. The chest feels tight. Young children may not have the words to express what is happening and may complain of a tummy ache instead.
  • Breathing Difficulties – It can be hard to tell if a child has breathing difficulties as he or she may be unable to say so. It’s a distressing situation, so the child needs calm, gentle handling. If you notice long-term coughing and wheezing, that’s an indication that asthma may be present. If the area where the neck meets the breast bone seems to be continually constricting, it’s a sign of breathing difficulty.

Management of Asthma in Children

Asthma in children and adults is quite similar. But as the condition can be life-disrupting for children, it’s important to take special care of them. Asthma is known to respond to certain triggers, like breathing in cold air, pollen or dust. As mentioned, it’s an allergy, not an infectious disease. However, the cause is largely unknown.

Always keep emergency medication handy to administer to the child in case of a sudden attack. Parents should also talk to the child’s doctor and work out a treatment plan, allowing the doctor to prescribe preventive medicines. The child’s treatment should be reviewed every so often, at least once a year. But it’s good to visit the doctor regularly so he or she can monitor the treatment more closely. Good asthma treatment aims to keep life as normal as possible and to keep the condition in control.

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