With the wheezing comes the worrying. Could your child be the one in every ten children who is affected by what is now the most common chronic disease of childhood. The number of children with asthma has risen dramatically in the past few decades. Here’s what parents need to know when their young child shows signs of congestion and coughing.
Asthma is a condition that tends to run in families where overly sensitive airways swell, tighten, and produce excess mucus. Children from families with parents or close relatives who have allergies or asthma are more likely to develop the disease. Who’s at the highest risk of developing asthma? Young children who often wheeze and have respiratory issues. And, more boys have asthma than do girls. Researchers are still trying to figure out exactly what factors prompt asthma to develop in susceptible children, but asthma seems to result from both an inherited tendency and exposure to environmental factors. Babies born premature and those with a history of respiratory infections have been shown to face an increased risk of asthma. But detecting asthma in babies can be difficult. Their tiny airways are filled easily with mucus when they have a cold or other respiratory infection. This can lead to the wheezing sound that commonly signals asthma. About half of children with asthma develop symptoms by age 2, and about 80 percent will have symptoms by age 5.
Parents should be alert for these symptoms:
If you suspect your child may have asthma, don’t wait. Take them to see a doctor. Breathing and allergy tests can help determine if treatment is needed. What is causing the asthma symptoms? Possible culprits include cigarette smoke, dust mites and pets to which many people have an allergic reaction. Allergies are a common trigger for asthma symptoms. If your child has allergies, managing the triggers may lead to fewer asthma problems.
Tips for managing triggers
Work with the doctor to find your child’s allergic triggers. Then discuss ways to avoid or control them. For example:
Options for treating allergies
Talk with your child’s doctor about allergy treatments. Options include:
To learn more about Asthma and the Taking on Asthma initiative, and to help you breathe easier about your child’s treatment options, visit bcbsil.com/taking-on-asthma
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