Do You Think Your Child Has Asthma?

Do You Think Your Child Has Asthma?

It can be upsetting when your child is struggling with a health issue. It's especially unnerving if your child seems to be struggling to breathe. We understand. More importantly, we're here to help you. 

Ask Yourself a Few Questions 

Is there a family history of asthma or allergies? 

Let your child’s doctor know if anyone in your family has asthma leaving site icon or allergies.leaving site icon Mention any food allergies, hay fever, hives and eczema. Children should be screened for asthma if they have:

  • Breathing difficulties at night
  • Respiratory infections
  • Regular exposure to smoke
  • Regular exposure to pet dander
  • Coughing after running or crying

Do you hear a high-pitched whistle or wheeze when your child has trouble breathing? Does your child cough often? Does your child become short of breath? Does he or she complain about troubled breathing or chest tightness?  

They can all be symptoms of asthma. When kids are five and older, doctors can diagnose and monitor asthma with the same breathing tests they use for adults. The tests measure how much air your child can quickly exhale. It’s an important sign of how well the lungs are working. 

Younger children may not be able to do these tests. Instead, asthma is more commonly diagnosed based on a repeat history of breathing problems from common triggers. 

Asthma is a chronic condition. Symptoms can flare up at any time. Still, there is a lot you can do to reduce flare-ups. Monitoring symptoms and following a personalized Asthma Action Plan can help most children do the fun things they enjoy. 

Find Your Child’s Asthma Triggers

Triggers cause the lungs to overreact, but they aren’t the same for everyone. Often, triggers are allergens such as dust mites or pollen. They can also be cold or flu viruses. Exercise can trigger asthma. So can cigarette smoke and strong fragrances. Some common triggers like pets are year-round problems. Dry air and cold weather can be seasonal or location based. Knowing your child’s triggers and reducing exposure to them helps prevent asthma flare-ups. 
Your child’s doctor is your partner in diagnosing and treating your child’s asthma. The doctor will consider your child’s age, weight and abilities when developing a treatment plan.

Follow 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. They may miss fewer school days. On the playground and sports field, they may have more energy and be able to join in the fun.

Keep in mind that regular follow-up visits are needed to make sure your child doesn’t outgrow his or her treatment. 

Sources: Childhood Asthma, leaving site icon Mayo Clinic, 2023; What is Asthma? leaving site icon American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; Types of Allergies, leaving site icon  American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

Originally published: 6/29/2016; Revised 2022, 2024