Pediatric asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways caused by an obstruction. While there is no cure, it is easily managed with a combination of long-term and quick relief treatments that can help your child and prevent lung damage from occurring. If you live in the states of New Jersey or Pennsylvania, Penn Medicine Becker ENT & Allergy Center offers treatment for pediatric asthma among its services.
What Causes Pediatric Asthma?
Asthma in Children can be frightening to parents, but is a common condition that affects millions of children annually. It is defined as a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways caused by an obstruction. While there is no cure, it is easily managed with a combination of long-term and quick relief treatments that can help your child and prevent lung damage from occurring.
Asthma develops when the immune system becomes overly sensitive to a particular trigger. When the body encounters this irritant, the bronchi contract, the mucus membranes swell, and they produce more mucus than usual. This causes the airways to narrow, and leads to breathing difficulties. It can be triggered by a number of different factors. It is often hereditary, with no obvious cause. It can be brought on by an upper respiratory infection, allergies, pollution, exercise (yes, exercise induced asthma is a thing), or a change in the weather.
Children with asthma or a family history of asthma and upper respiratory diseases such as sinusitis, rhinitis, and reflux are most at risk for contracting it. Other risk factors include allergies, low birth weight, and obesity.
Pediatric Asthma Symptoms
Symptoms vary among individuals, but often include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, chest congestion, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping and breathing. Your child may have one, all, or a combination of these signs.
- Wheezing, coughing, fatigue.
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Chest pain
Diagnosing Pediatric Asthma
“Am I having an asthma attack” is one of the scariest things a parent can hear and diagnosis can be challenging since most of the symptoms are found in other illnesses. Following a physical exam and a discussion of your child’s symptoms and family medical history, his or her doctor will run diagnostic tests to check for asthma. These may include lung function tests using a peak flow meter or spirometer, allergy testing, x-rays, and CT scan. If your child is younger than three years old, a diagnosis may be delayed since asthma medications in very young patients can lead to unknown side effects.
Most pediatric asthma cases can be diagnosed by a health care provider with a physical examination and discussion of symptoms. It is important to discuss any family history of respiratory tract infections or allergies in order to identify any possible asthma triggers.
Once your child has been diagnosed with pediatric asthma, they will need to develop an Asthma Action Plan with their health care provider. This plan should include information on how to identify and avoid triggers, how to recognize early signs of an attack, when and how much medication should be taken, and when it is time to seek medical treatment for severe or persistent asthma attacks. Following closely this action plan can help your child manage their condition safely and effectively.
How is Pediatric Asthma Treated?
Pediatric Asthma Program and Treatment involve a two-pronged approach. Patients require long-term control drugs that are taken daily in order to prevent symptoms from flaring up, and quick relief (or rescue) medications that offer immediate relief during an asthma attack. Triggers change and evolve over time, so regular checkups are highly recommended. There are a number of treatments available to help manage pediatric asthma, including:
- Bronchodilators or dose inhaler
- Combination medications
- Leukotriene modifiers
- Oral steroids
- Avoiding triggers
- Regular exercise
- A healthy diet
- Asthma treatment plan
- Quick-relief medicines
- Hospitalization in severe cases
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