As we enter the final month of summer vacation, our children are getting ready to go back to school and that means fall sports will be in full swing as well. Your children will need to see the doctor for their basic sports physical, but should you also be talking to their doctor about asthma? Did you know that asthma is the most prevalent chronic condition in children? In fact, nearly 10% of American children suffer from asthma. But what exactly is asthma and how do you know if your child has it?
What is asthma?
When you breathe, air passes through your nose and down your throat into your lungs. Inside your lungs are branching tubes called airways. With asthma, the airways are often swollen and red (or inflamed). This makes them extra sensitive to things that you are exposed to in the environment every day or asthma “triggers.” A trigger could be a cold, the weather, or things in the environment, such as dust, chemicals, smoke and pet dander. Here are some common triggers for children with asthma:
1. respiratory infections, colds
2. allergic reactions to allergens such as pollen, mold, animal dander, feathers, dust, food, and cockroaches
3. exposure to cold air or sudden temperature change
4. second-hand cigarette smoke
What are the symptoms of asthma?
There are many symptoms that you can watch for in your children to monitor whether or not they may have or be developing asthma.
1. Wheezing. Does your child make a whistling sound when breathing out?
2. Coughing. Does your child ever have a cough or hack that does not go away and often occurs or worsens at night?
3. Chest Tightness. Does your child ever complain of their chest hurting during or after exercise?
4. Shortness of Breath. Has your child ever complained about having trouble trying to catch his/her breath?
Some children with asthma may also show signs of chronic fatigue and may experience recurring headaches.
If you have observed, or your child has complained of, any of the above symptoms, you should talk to your doctor. When you and your child come in to the office, we will take a detailed medical history and try to determine which environmental factors may be trigging your child’s symptoms. There are also several breathing tests we can perform in order to determine whether or not your child has asthma. The most common test is performed using a spirometer, which measures the amount and speed of the air as your child exhales. If your child is diagnosed with asthma, we will prescribe medications to help control it. While asthma cannot be cured, the medicines can help to prevent and treat symptoms.
If you would like to have your child evaluated for asthma, simply call our office at 253-848-5951 or schedule an appointment online using mySFM.