About Childhood Asthma

Asthma is a long-term lung condition that inflames and narrows the airways. Symptoms of asthma typically include episodes of coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. In most cases, asthma first appears in childhood.

About Childhood Asthma

Asthma is a chronic lung condition that irritates and narrows the airways, resulting in episodes of wheezing, shortness of breath, and coughing. Although asthma affects people of all ages, it usually presents itself during childhood.

What Causes Asthma?

Children who suffer from asthma have inflamed airways, which are swollen and sensitive to inhaled substances. Some environmental factors like cigarette smoke, exercise and dust can also aggravate the airway, causing the smooth muscle to constrict around the airway and making the airways even narrower.

Signs and Symptoms of Asthma

Symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The symptoms can be anywhere from mild to debilitating, but with modern medicine, they can be controlled. The different levels of childhood asthma are:

  • Mild intermittent asthma. Brief episodes of wheezing, coughing or shortness of breath occurs no more than twice a week.
  • Mild persistent asthma. Wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath occurs more than twice a week, but no less than once a day.
  • Moderate persistent asthma. Daily symptoms of coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath that require daily medication.
  • Severe persistent asthma. Persistent symptoms continuously with very frequent flare-ups that require emergency treatment.

Diagnosing Childhood Asthma

At AGC Pediatrics, we will rule out other possible causes of the symptoms and review family medical history, allergy history, perform a physical exam. If necessary, we may take a few chest X-rays.

We will also review your child’s symptoms, when the symptoms occur and identify asthma triggers. Family medical history is important in diagnosis, as asthma is often hereditary. In order to confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will administer a breathing test with a spirometer (a machine that measures airflow).

Many children suffer from exercise induced asthma (EIA) or allergy induced asthma. These cases can be easily treated with medication and avoidance of the particular allergens. Children with EIA can resume exercise activities just like any other child without asthma if they are properly treated for the condition.

Treating Childhood Asthma Attacks

When taken daily, long-term asthma control medications can help prevent asthma attacks. These medications include:

  • Inhaled corticosteroids. Asthma medications such as Flonase, Pulmicort, and Omnaris have a low risk of side effects and are safe for long-term asthma treatment.
  • Leukotriene modifiers. Oral asthma medications such as Singulair and Zyflo relieve symptoms of asthma for up to 24 hours.
  • Combination inhalers. Prescription asthma medications such as Symbicort and Advair Diskus combine long-acting beta antagonists, which open the airways, with corticosteroids, which combat asthma symptoms.

Despite long term treatment, your child may still experience occasional asthma attacks It is important to be able to recognize the signs of an impending attack so that it can be treated as early as possible.

Warning signs of an asthma attack include:

  • Coughing with no cold present
  • Rapid, irregular breathing
  • Trouble sitting still
  • Labored, restless sleep
  • Unusual fatigue

If your child displays symptoms of childhood asthma, call AGC Pediatrics at (706) 625-5900 to schedule an appointment at any of our four convenient locations.