Asthma, a medical condition that can make breathing difficult for your child, is one of the most common chronic conditions children experience. Without treatment, asthma can cause life-threatening attacks, but with proper management, your child can breathe freely and experience a full, active childhood.
At Laurel Pediatric & Teen Medical Center in Bel Air, Maryland, Ugonma Harriet Okparaocha, MD (Dr. Ugo to her patients) and her team are well acquainted with childhood asthma and what it can mean for your child’s overall health. Dr. Ugo and her team not only effectively manage your child’s asthma, they also provide you with up-to-date guidance and information.
Keep reading to learn three facts about asthma many parents don’t know but should.
1. Asthma symptoms go beyond wheezing
Wheezing is probably the most familiar symptom parents cite when considering the possibility their child has asthma. However, your child can have asthma without symptoms of wheezing.
Your child can also experience wheezing without having asthma. Upper respiratory tract infections, allergies, and even certain digestive issues such as gastroesophageal reflux disease can cause your child to wheeze.
When making an asthma diagnosis, Dr. Ugo fully evaluates your child’s range of potential asthma symptoms. Those symptoms may include:
- Coughing at night, after activities (even laughing), or during exposure to extreme temperature changes
- Rapid or labored breathing
- Complaints of chest tightness or pain
- Reduced energy, often accompanied by lack of desire to engage in physical activity
- Complaints of feeling tired or weak
- In infants, excessive grunting during feeding
Having difficulties taking in air from asthma can also cause your child to become anxious, exacerbating their symptoms. This is often due to an emotional response as well as a psychological response caused by the brain’s “panic” from dropping oxygen levels.
2. Certain conditions make your child more likely to develop asthma
A recent study cited by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) found children with allergies, such as hay fever or eczema, are seven times more likely to develop asthma by age three than other children.
Other elements that raise your child’s risk of developing asthma include:
- Exposure to environmental pollutants
- Inhaling certain substances, including cigarette smoke
- Childhood obesity
- Experiencing upper respiratory illnesses frequently
Young children aren’t always able to describe their symptoms, so Dr. Ugo uses a combination of diagnostic measures to recognize your child’s asthma. This often includes involving you in a detailed discussion of your child’s symptoms and your family’s medical history.
3. You can help identify your child’s asthma triggers
Dr. Ugo’s treatment plan involves identifying your child’s specific asthma triggers. Triggers can range widely between children and can be hard to spot. Fortunately, by paying attention to the timing of your child’s symptoms at home, you can highlight patterns and help zero in on their triggers.
For example, if the attacks happen most frequently at the height of ragweed pollen season, from mid-August through the first frost, there’s a good change their asthma attacks are triggered by seasonal or fall allergies.
Other patterns to watch for include symptoms that typically occur:
- During or soon after exercise
- At night or very early in the morning
- After laughing or crying
- When exposed to perfumes, candles, air fresheners, and skin and hair care products
After Dr. Ugo diagnosis your child with asthma, she develops a treatment plan that gives detailed information to you and your child about asthma, including:
- What medicines your child takes and when
- A list of potential triggers
- When to seek emergency care
For more information about childhood asthma and to receive a diagnosis and treatment plan that can restore your child’s active life, call Laurel Pediatric Medical & Teen Center at 410-504-6676, or book an appointment online.