Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways, resulting in symptoms like wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. While asthma is commonly thought of as a condition that affects older children and adults, it can develop very early in life.
Southfield Pediatrics, with offices in Bingham Farms and Novi, Michigan, offers expert pediatric services from infancy through adolescence. We’re also focused on providing parental support that keeps you attuned to your child’s health needs.
Because asthma can quickly become life-threatening, we recommend you schedule an evaluation as soon as possible, or seek emergency medical treatment if your child is struggling to breathe.
Otherwise, read more from our team about asthma in young children and the symptoms that could indicate a problem.
Asthma in infants
Asthma can manifest in infants as young as a few months old, including symptoms like:
- Rapid breathing
- Flared nostrils, exaggerated belly movement, and other signs of difficulty breathing
- Wheezing (whistling sound with breathing)
- Persistent coughing
- Difficulty nursing
- Fatigue and irritability
- Increased fussiness and lack of interest in play
Risk factors for asthma in infants include family history and exposure to environmental factors, such as secondhand smoke. However, viruses are the most common triggers for asthma in infants younger than six months.
Asthma in toddlers and preschoolers
Asthma symptoms become more recognizable when children reach toddler and preschool ages. For instance, recurrent wheezing episodes and coughing might indicate asthma, especially if triggered by common allergens, physical activity, or exposure to cold air.
Viral respiratory infections and exposure to allergens like pollen, dust mites, and pet dander are common triggers for an asthma attack in this age group.
Diagnosing pediatric asthma
Spirometry is a simple, painless, in-office test that assesses lung function by measuring how much air your child inhales and how forcefully they exhale.
Unfortunately, one of the challenges of diagnosing asthma in very young children is that standard pulmonary function tests like spirometry are challenging for kids under 5 or 6 to perform.
However, your Southfield pediatrician can make a “likely diagnosis” based on your child’s family history, symptoms, and physical evaluation results.
You can help by keeping a log of your child’s symptoms and any triggers or patterns that stand out. For instance, are symptoms more common at rest or with activity, or do they typically occur at certain times of the day?
Additionally, even if your child is too young for a definitive diagnosis, your pediatrician may treat suspicious symptoms with asthma medications, like bronchodilators or inhaled corticosteroids, to see if they bring relief.
Treating pediatric asthma
Asthma management depends upon the severity and underlying cause of your child’s asthma. For instance, asthma driven by allergies may require allergy testing and treatment along with asthma care.
Otherwise, based on evaluation results, your Southfield Pediatrics doctor may recommend daily medication to protect lung health long-term and bronchodilators (rescue inhalers) to use during an asthma attack.
Your pediatrician will also create a written asthma action plan that includes instructions for daily care and the steps to take during an asthma attack.
Identifying and minimizing your child’s exposure to known asthma triggers is also crucial in managing asthma. Once diagnosed, your child requires regular asthma checkups to ensure medications continue to meet their needs as they age.
Schedule an evaluation at Southfield Pediatrics today. Call the office or request an appointment online.