Asthma in Children

Asthma is the most common chronic disorder among children. This illness currently affects an estimated 6.5 million children under 18 years of age, and many have "hidden" or undiagnosed asthma. It is also the most common cause of school absenteeism due to chronic disease and accounted for an estimated 14 million lost school days.

Although asthma cannot be cured, it can almost always be controlled. And it is best for you and your child understand the disease and its treatment.

What is normal lung function?

Our lungs work by allowing oxygen to enter the body in exchange for its waste product, carbon dioxide. As the air passes through the nose and mouth, it is rapidly warmed and moistened to avoid injury to the delicate lining of the airways.

Our nose and airways also trap large particles and chemicals like dust, pollen, molds, smoke, and sprays, which could cause serious injury to the lungs. The air is then transported through our lungs’ smaller airways that branch out like a tree, leading to millions of small air sacs called alveoli.

How asthma occurs?

Asthma is an inflammation of our lungs’ airways, causing the normal function of the airways to become excessive and over-reactive. This produces increased mucus, swelling, and muscle contraction in the lungs. These changes produces airway obstruction, chest tightness, coughing, and wheezing. In severe cases, this can also cause severe shortness of breath and low blood oxygen.

What causes asthma?

Common among asthma patients is the inflammation of airways, and it is virtually the cause of almost all cases of asthmatic condition. Our airways get inflamed because of allergies, viral respiratory infections, and airborne irritants among others. Meanwhile, childhood asthma is both genetic and allergic. About 75 to 80 percent of children with asthma have significant allergies.

Symptoms of asthma

Although asthma patients tend to wheeze while breathing, it is not the most common symptom. It is actually coughing, which is especially applicable to those with "hidden" asthma when wheezing may not be apparent.

If your child has been coughing too frequently and complain of tightness of the chest, your child should be evaluated for asthma. Children who cough after running or crying, as well as those who cough during the night, may also have asthma.

How to detect hidden asthma?

There are cases when your child’s asthma may not be evident, since there is no signs of rapid breathing, wheezing, and coughing. However, he or she suffer some degree of airway obstruction.

Unless it is brought under control, your child may suffer more frequent respiratory illness. To detect hidden asthma in your child, have him or her undergo pulmonary function testing.