Asthma is a long-lasting health problem. It is a change in how the lining of the airways of the lungs work. Asthma makes the airways narrow and makes it hard to breathe.
There are different degrees of asthma. Some children may have mild asthma with rare flare-ups. Others may have a severe, constant asthma.
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The exact causes of asthma are unknown, but genetics play a role.
Things that are known to trigger an asthma attack are:
Things that may increase your child’s chance of asthma include:
An asthma attack can cause:
A doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will listen to your child’s lungs. Your child may be referred to a specialist.
Your child may be tested for common allergens that may trigger symptoms. This can be done with skin testing or blood tests.
Your child's lungs may be tested with:
The doctor will create an asthma action plan. This is a plan to help control asthma, handle asthma attacks, and prevent limits to child's play. Treatment will vary based on age, symptoms, and how often asthma attacks happen. The treatment plan will help to decrease number of attacks or stop attacks from happening.
Treatment options include the following:
Medicine used to treat asthma may be long-term or short-term.
Long-term medicine will help to avoid asthma attacks. They cannot treat an attack itself. One or more may be used:
Short-term control medicine is used to treat an asthma attack. It may include:
Exercise may help the lungs work better. Treatment should allow normal exercise and activity levels, including sports.
Changes or things in the air can trigger an asthma attack. The exact triggers may be a bit different from person to person. Some helpful steps include:
Asthma cannot be prevented.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Asthma Society of Canada
The Lung Association
Chronic asthma in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/chronic-asthma-in-children. Accessed August 28, 2020.
Asthma: kids. Centers for Disease Control website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ASTHMA/children.htm. Accessed August 28, 2020.
Childhood asthma,. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology website. Available at http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/at-a-glance/childhood-asthma.aspx. Accessed August 28, 2020.
What causes asthma? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Asthma/Asthma_Causes.html. Accessed August 28, 2020.
8/27/2013 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T500326/Asthma-in-children : Kim JM, Lin SY, et al. Allergen-specific immunotherapy for pediatric asthma and rhinoconjunctivitis: a systematic review. Pediatrics. 2013 Jun;131(6):1155-67.
11/2/2015 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T500326/Asthma-in-children : Normansell R, Kew KM, et al. Sublingual immunotherapy for asthma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Aug 28;8:CD011293.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Chelsea Skucek, MSN, BS, RNC-NIC Last Updated: 11/25/2020