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Asthma in Babies and Children


Babies and children can develop asthma or asthma-like symptoms that are severe and life-threatening. In 2010, according to the CDC, 10 million babies and children (17 years old and under) in the U.S. were diagnosed with asthma; while 7 million children ended up with chronic asthma. Asthma rates by gender indicate that boys are more likely to have asthma than girls. Asthma can affect babies and children at any economic level; however, there is a greater prevalence of asthma found in babies and children who live in poor families. Overall asthma rates for babies and children are increasing, and no oneís sure why.

Asthma can be dangerous for infants and children; itís important that parents monitor any illness that makes it harder for their kids to breathe. Asthma symptoms will vary by child, and can even change from one asthma incidence to the next in the same child.

Risk Factors for Childhood Asthma
There are several risk factors doctors look at to see if your child has a greater chance of developing asthma:

 A family history of asthma and allergies (including hay fever, eczema, and skin rashes)
 Frequent respiratory infections
 Low birth weight
 Exposed to tobacco before or after birth
 Being raised in a low income family


Signs and Symptoms of Asthma in Babies
Here is a list of possible signs and symptoms of asthma in babies:

 Chronic cough (which might be the only symptom)
 Frequent coughing spells (at night, during play or while laughing or crying)
 Fatigue and tiredness during the day
 Rapid breathing
 Wheezing (whistling sound when baby or child breathes in and out)
 Shortness of breath, loss of breath
 Tightened neck and or chest muscles
 Pale or bluish skin color (anywhere on the body)
 Irritability and crankiness
 Stops feeding
 Wants to only sit up and refuses to lie down (breathing is harder when lying)
 Rapid breathing
 Retractions (see-saw motions of the chest from labored breathing) If you see your baby breathing like this, it is time to take him/her to the doctor or hospital as soon as possible.

Asthma symptoms in babies can result from respiratory infections, such as the common cold, bronchiolitis or RSV. Bronchiolitis is a viral infection that causes the babyís airways to swell, making it hard to breathe, as babies have tiny airways that are easily blocked. Other common causes for wheezing in babies can include inhaling a foreign object; premature birth; and cystic fibrosis. Babies should be seen by a doctor at the first sign of any breathing difficulty.

Diagnosing asthma in babies can be difficult due to their small lungs and tiny airways. Your doctor will take a medical history and perform a physical exam of your baby. Itís important that parents take note of all symptoms and share these with the doctor. Based on your doctorís findings, he/she might prescribe a course of asthma medications for your baby. These can include inhaled medications (albuterol and/or inhaled corticosteroids) or liquid asthma medication. Inhaled medications for babies are generally delivered with a nebulizer, as this is the easiest way to insure the baby breathes in the prescribed asthma medicine. Your baby may need only one round of medication, depending on the doctorís findings. Studies show that most infants tend to outgrow their asthma and wheezing by the time they are three years of age. However, there is a small percentage of children who will have persistent asthma trouble that may last through childhood and into adulthood.

Signs and Symptoms of Asthma in Children
The signs and symptoms of asthma in children are similar to those a baby might experience, with some differences:

 Chronic cough (which might be the only symptom)
 Frequent coughing spells (at night, during play or while laughing or crying)
 Fatigue and tiredness during the day
 Complains of chest hurting or chest tightness
 Rapid breathing
 Wheezing (whistling sound when baby or child breathes in and out)
 Shortness of breath, loss of breath
 Tightened neck and or chest muscles
 Pale or bluish skin color (anywhere on their body)
 Irritable and cranky
 Retractions (see-saw motions of the chest from labored breathing) If you see your child breathing like this, it is time to take him/her to the doctor or hospital as soon as possible.

Doctors have an easier time diagnosing asthma in older children. Your doctor will take a medical history, ask for signs and symptoms youíve noticed, do a physical exam, and may even order tests such as a lung function test (spirometry), allergy skin testing, blood tests and X-rays to check for sinus infections and GERD.

Some children do outgrow asthma; however, there is no way to tell if a specific child will outgrow their asthma. Itís important to monitor your child once they have been diagnosed with asthma. Even small changes in asthma can mean your childís asthma is not stable. Unstable asthma may bring-on more asthma flares and attacks, and could even lead to long-term damage to your childís airways and lungs.

Asthma Medications for Babies and Children
Your doctor will choose the asthma medications that are best to treat your baby or child. Many parents worry about using asthma medications, such as corticosteroids, and the possible side effects. Inhaled steroids do have some side effects, but if your baby or child has asthma, the benefits of the medication will far outweigh the possible side effects. Be sure to discuss any concerns or questions you may have about any asthma medications prescribed by your doctor.

Prognosis
The prognosis for babies and children diagnosed with asthma is very good. The best outcome for your kids is if you, the parents, watch for signs and symptoms of asthma. Asthma is a chronic, treatable disease that can be managed. Proper asthma management and asthma medications can help your baby or child to have an active, healthy and happy childhood.

Please check out my new book Asthma's Nothing to Wheeze At!


Now also available on Amazon Asthma's Nothing to Wheeze At!
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Content copyright © 2014 by Sherry Vacik. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Sherry Vacik. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Sherry Vacik for details.

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