Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children. For unknown reasons, the number of children with asthma increases every year. Symptoms can occur at any age, but most often they occur at the age of 5 years.
Diagnosing asthma in a baby is not an easy task.
However, in a more adult child, asthma is diagnosed based on the child’s medical history, symptoms, and medical examination.
- Case history and symptom description. It will be important for the physician to know about any problems with the child’s breathing that have appeared before or are observed at the moment. Also important information is information about diseases in the family – whether any of the relatives suffered from asthma, allergies, eczema or lung diseases. It is extremely important to accurately describe the symptoms that a child has – coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, pain or tightness in the chest – as well as the frequency of their appearance.
- Medical examination. The doctor listens to the heart and lungs of a child.
- Analyzes. A chest x-ray and pulmonary function tests may also be given to the child. These tests measure the volume of air in the lungs and the rate at which a child can breathe out. The test results help to establish the stage of development of the disease. As a rule, it is impossible to carry out pulmonary functional tests for children under 5 years of age. Accordingly, doctors have to rely on medical history, symptoms and examination.
Other tests can be prescribed to determine the causative agent of asthma: skin allergy tests, blood tests and X-rays (to determine if asthmatic symptoms worsen an infectious disease of the sinuses or gastroesophageal reflux – a disease of the gastrointestinal tract, in which the esophagus, sometimes even lungs, gastric contents outflow occurs).
Factors contributing to asthma
There are many factors that can affect the development of asthma in a child.
- History of asthma and / or allergies in the family
- Frequent infectious diseases of the respiratory tract
- Lightweight at birth
- Exposure to tobacco smoke before and / or after birth
- Afro-American nationality
- Poor family.
Why do more and more children suffer from asthma?
To date, the cause of this phenomenon is unknown. Some scientists are convinced that today children are more susceptible to the effects of various allergens – dust, polluted air, tobacco smoke from passive smoking. These factors contribute to asthma. Other scientists believe that today children suffer from insufficient numbers of childhood diseases to develop a strong immune system. Most likely, a weak immune system, which produces an insufficient amount of protective antibodies, still affects asthma.
Some scientists are of the opinion that the less a baby is breastfed, the less likely he is to get all the necessary substances of the immune system from the mother.
How to determine if a child has asthma
Here are the main signs and symptoms:
- Frequent coughing episodes that occur while playing or sleeping, at night. It is important to remember that coughing may be the only symptom that manifests.
- Reduced child activity
- Rapid breathing
- Child’s complaints of tightness or chest pain
- Wheezing while breathing
- Breast heave from shortness of breath
- Tense muscles of the neck and chest
- Weakness, fatigue.
Remember that the symptoms in children appear differently. A child with each asthmatic attack may have different symptoms. You should also remember that wheezing and coughing do not mean that the child has asthma.
In children under 5, the most common cause of symptoms similar to asthma is viral infections of the upper respiratory tract, or the common cold.
If your child has trouble breathing, consult a specialist who will determine the exact cause of the symptoms.