Asthma is a chronic condition in which the lungs become inflamed and the airways narrowed, making it difficult to breathe. Asthma is accompanied by chest tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing. Common triggers of asthma flare up are viral infections, smoke, cigarette smoke, allergies, pollen, physical activity, and change in weather to name a few. Approximately 6.3 million children in this country, or 8.6%, have asthma. Asthma, like allergies, has a genetic component, often running in families.
Asthma can be diagnosed in children as young as 3-yeas-old, who suffer from recurrent symptoms of a nighttime cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, and frequent episodes of pneumonia or bronchiolitis.
The most common symptoms of asthma include:
Asthma is usually diagnosed in a young child by getting a good history and doing a physical examination. Sometimes additional tests like a chest Xray or Pulmonary Function Tests are needed.
The first step in managing asthma symptoms at any age is to avoid triggers which can exacerbate attacks. Most asthmatics will also be treated with medication. Each child is different and therefore, the specific medication may differ. Generally, patients use two types of Inhalers. The first, known as a preventive inhaler, is designed for daily use to prevent symptoms. The second, known as a rescue inhaler, is designed to relieve the sudden onset of symptoms and those which are severe. Inhalers generally contain corticosteroids to relieve inflammation. Dr. Nauman will explain all of this as needed.
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