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Does My Child Have Asthma?

Nothing is more frightening for a parent than watching your child struggle to breathe. Asthma is among many reasons that could cause difficulty in breathing. Your child may be asthmatic if you notice common signs such as coughing, sneezing, and shortness of breath.

Asthma is a leading chronic illness among children, with approximately 4.8 million children under 18 who are asthmatic. Interestingly, Non-Hispanic black children are two times more likely to have asthma than non-Hispanic white children.

Although asthma may disappear before adulthood, children are exposed to the risk of complications, including growth delay and learning disability. Understanding the signs and symptoms of asthma and treatment options is an excellent way to love your family.

If your child has asthmatic-like symptoms, consider visiting a nearby urgent care center to receive prompt medical attention.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a condition characterized by the narrowing of airwaves, swelling, and the production of extra mucus. It often results in breathing difficulty, coughing, wheezing while inhaling, and shortness of breath. Although it’s impossible to cure asthma, you can control the symptoms.

Childhood asthma causes irritating symptoms that hinder play, sports, school, and sleeping. Also, asthmatic children develop varying symptoms over time, highlighting the need for frequent check-ups.

How Do I Know If My Child Has Asthma?

The only way to know your child has asthma is by visiting a board-certified pediatrician. Even so, specific symptoms indicate the need to have your child examined for a possible asthma condition.

Here are asthma signs and symptoms;

  • Shortness of breath

  • A congested chest or tightness

  • Wheezing or whistling sound when breathing out

  • A frequent cough that worsens when your child sleeps, has a viral infection, or is exposed to cold air.

You may also identify childhood asthma using the following symptoms;

  • If the child finds it difficult to sleep due to shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing

  • Troubled breathing that interferes with play or exercising

  • Fatigue due to poor sleep patterns

  • Intermittent coughs and wheezing that get worse with a cold or flu

  • A delayed recovery following a respiratory infection

Generally, asthma symptoms vary from child to child; some improve or worsen with time. Surprisingly, some kids display mild symptoms like a lingering cough or chest infection. Bronchitis or other respiratory conditions have similar asthmatic symptoms like wheezing.

Ultimately, it’s difficult to tell with certainty that your child’s symptoms are asthma-related. More importantly, it’s advisable to get asthmatic conditions under control, highlighting the need to seek prompt medical intervention.

How Is Asthma Diagnosed in an Urgent Care Center?

Asthma is difficult to diagnose because of other conditions that display asthmatic conditions. That said, a physician will rely on a physical exam to rule out other possibilities such as rhinitis, airway problems, acid reflux, sinusitis, or respiratory tract infections like bronchiolitis.

Here are a few tests that can help;

  • Lung Function Test: A healthcare provider would administer a lung function test, also known as spirometry, to assess how much air and quickly the child can exhale. The lung function test produces the best results at rest, after exercising, or after taking medication.

  • Nitric Oxide Test: A physician might recommend an exhaled nitric oxide test to measure the amount of nitric oxide exhaled from a breath. High levels of oxide indicate the possibility of swollen lung airways. The test also shows whether steroid medicine can help your child’s asthma.

Lung function and nitric oxide tests may produce an inaccurate assessment of your child’s asthma. Therefore, a physician will also rely on how the child or the parent describes the symptoms. The difficulty in identifying asthma symptoms in children explains why the correct diagnosis occurs months or years after observing the first symptoms.

Alternatively, a physician may recommend an allergy test for asthma triggered by allergies. The skin test is the most common examination, which involves pricking the skin with allergy-causing substances such as dander, mold, or dust mites. The goal of the test is to record possible allergic reactions.

What Are the Treatment Options Available At an Urgent Care Center?

The treatment plan for an asthmatic child depends on the severity of the symptoms. The ultimate goal of asthma treatment is to minimize the symptoms. As a result, the child should experience zero or few signs, be able to participate in physical activities, have minimal use of inhalers, and have minimal side effects from medication.

A physician will also prescribe treatment considering their age or triggers and use a customized approach for each patient.

Doctors also apply a wait-and-see approach for children under three years with mild symptoms. The long-term effects of asthma medication on infants are unclear, making it a risky plan. Even so, a physician may prescribe medication to help infants with severe symptoms like wheezing episodes.

Long-term Medication

A physician can prescribe long-term control medication to reduce inflammation in the airways. The child is required to take these medications daily. The typical long-term medication includes Leukotriene modifiers, Theophylline (Theo-24), Combination inhalers, or Inhaled corticosteroids.

Leukotriene modifiers are oral medications that prevent asthma symptoms for up to 24 hours.

Quick-relief Medication

A physician may also prescribe quick-relief medication/rescue medication to open up your swollen airways. Quick relief medication such as short-acting beta or intravenous corticosteroids helps children get rapid and short-term relief after an asthma attack.

A doctor can recommend intravenous corticosteroids such as prednisone to provide quick relief of inflammation caused by asthma.

Treatment for Allergy-related Asthma

If an allergy triggers your child’s asthma, a doctor can recommend allergy treatment such as allergy medicines, allergy shots, or Omalizumab. Common allergy medications include decongestants, corticosteroids, and ipratropium nasal sprays.

If your child experiences an allergy flare-up, a quick relief like an inhaler can immediately ease the symptoms. Nonetheless, long-term medication is the most effective approach. The role of long-term medication is to reduce symptoms and the need to use quick-relief medication.

What Causes Asthma?

There is no direct answer to what causes asthma. It’s a series of factors, including genetics, airway infections at a young age, and exposure to external factors such as cigarette smoke or air pollution.

In addition, an increased immune sensitivity causes the lungs to swell and produce mucus after exposure to specific triggers. Interestingly, allergic reaction to the stimulus is sometimes delayed making it difficult to identify the triggers.

Here are a few triggers that can cause allergic reactions;

  • Indoor allergens such as dust mites, mice, pet dander, & cockroaches

  • Pollen from wood, grass, or weeds

  • Insect stings from bees, wasps, yellow jackets, or fire ants

  • Exposure to pollutants like tobacco smoke

  • Viral infections such as the common cold, influenza, or RSV

How Can I Prevent My Child From Getting Asthma?

Parents who understand the conditions linked to or trigger asthma can protect their children from falling ill.

Here are a few helpful tips;

  • Avoid exposure to asthma triggers

  • Encourage your child to participate in physical exercise

  • Help your child maintain a healthy weight

  • Discourage smoking around your child

  • Don’t Ignore any asthma-related signs

  • Keep acid reflux or heartburn under control

When to See a Doctor?

You should plan to see a doctor if you suspect that your child has asthma. Although asthma is not curable, early treatment improves the management of symptoms and prevention of asthma attacks.

Here are a few warning signs that indicate the need to see a physician;

  • If the child complains of chest tightness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Rapid breathing

  • Frequent episodes of pneumonia or suspected bronchitis

  • Wheezing as your child breaths out

  • Constant coughing

Talk to your child; a kid will tell you when their chest ‘feels funny.’ Listen to the child for strange coughing while asleep, which might not wake them up. In addition, take note of emotions such as crying, laughing, and yelling, which might trigger coughing.

Once a child has been diagnosed with asthma, create a checklist for you or caregivers to identify a potential attack.

When to Seek Urgent Medical Attention

In a severe asthma attack, you will notice the chest pulling inward when the child is experiencing difficulty breathing. You may also observe an increased heartbeat, chest pain, and sweating.

If you notice the following symptoms and seek emergency treatment;

  • If the child has to pause while speaking to take a breadth

  • If nostrils widen while breathing

  • Strained breathing that sucks the abdomen into the ribcage

  • Strained breathing that involves abdominal muscles

Always seek urgent medical attention every time an asthmatic child experiences difficulty breathing. Usually, asthma attacks start with coughing, proceed to whistle sounds, and labored breathing.

Get Your Child’s Asthma Under Control With Our Comprehensive Treatment Programs

The hustle of taking care of a child with asthma is unexplained. You’re in the middle of fun and games, and then boom, your child starts wheezing. Fortunately, the asthmatic condition is controllable and preventable with the proper treatment.

At Lifeline Urgent Care, our board-certified physicians provide quality care to asthmatic children to enhance their quality of life.

Contact us online or call us at 281-771-1144 to learn more or book an appointment.

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