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Is there a family history of asthma or allergies? Let your child’s doctor know if anyone in your family has asthma or allergies, including any food allergies, hay fever, hives or eczema. Children who have breathing difficulties (see below symptoms) at night, with respiratory infections or allergy exposure (eg smoke, pet dander), or who cough after running or crying, should prompt you to talk to their doctor about asthma screening. During what may be an asthma flare, do you hear a high-pitched whistle or wheeze when your child breathes? Does your child have a frequent cough? Or does your child, become short of breath and/or complain of difficulty breathing and/or chest tightness? All can be asthma symptoms in children. When kids are 5 and older, doctors can diagnose and monitor asthma with the same breathing tests used for adults. These tests measure how much air your child can quickly exhale, an important sign of how well the lungs are working. Because younger children may not be able to cooperate with these tests used in older people, asthma is more commonly diagnosed based upon a repeat history of the above breathing problems from common triggers (see below)
When your child has asthma, it is a chronic condition that is always there. Symptoms can flare up at any time. Yet there is a lot you can do to reduce the chance of this happening. By monitoring for symptoms and following a personalized Asthma Action Plan, most children with asthma can do all the enjoyable things they want to do.
They cause the lungs to overreact, but triggers aren’t the same for everyone. Often, triggers are allergens (such as dust mites or pollen) but they can also be cold or flu viruses, exercise, cigarette smoke or even strong fragrances. Step away from the scented candles! Some other common triggers, such as pets, are year-round issues. Others, such as dry air or cold weather, are a particular problem in winter. Identifying your child’s triggers and managing exposure to them helps prevent asthma flare-ups. Your child’s doctor is your partner in helping to diagnose and treat your child with asthma. Your child’s doctor will consider your child’s age, weight and abilities when developing a treatment plan.
Proper treatment can make a big difference in your child’s life. At home, your child may sleep better when symptoms are under control. At school, your child may miss fewer days due to asthma. And on the playground or sports field, your child may have greater stamina and be more willing to join in the fun.
Your doctor can make a treatment plan to fit your child’s needs. Keep in mind that regular follow-up visits are needed to make sure your child doesn’t outgrow his or her treatment.
To learn more about Asthma and the Taking on Asthma initiative, visit our website.
Originally published: June 29, 2016
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