Childhood asthma has become more widespread in recent decades. As the most common chronic illness in children, childhood asthma causes more missed school days and places more limits on activity than does any other disease in the United States. Childhood asthma and adult asthma have the same underlying cause – inflammation (swelling) of the airways. Approximately 75% of children with asthma have allergies that trigger this inflammation. This swelling causes the asthmatic patient’s airways to narrow, leading to signs and symptoms that range from minor coughing or wheezing to serious flare-ups that interfere with breathing.

Fortunately, childhood asthma is treatable. Although childhood asthma can’t be cured, you and your child can keep symptoms under control with medical treatment that includes a review of patient’s history to help identify triggers, asthma education with a written plan, medications and continuity of care with doctor visits to adjust treatment.

Childhood asthma can be very disruptive, causing bothersome daily symptoms that interfere with play, sports, school and sleep. In some children, unmanaged asthma can cause serious or even life-threatening asthma attacks.

Common asthma symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest congestion or tightness

Other signs and symptoms of asthma in children include:

  • Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
  • Episodes of coughing or wheezing that get worse with a respiratory infection such as a cold or flu
  • Delayed recovery or bronchitis after a respiratory infection
  • Fatigue or trouble breathing during active play or exercise – signs of exercise-induced asthma

Asthma signs and symptoms vary from child to child and may get worse or better over time. While wheezing is most commonly associated with asthma not all children who have asthma wheeze. Your child may have only one sign or symptom such as a lingering cough or chest congestion.

Asthma Facts:

  • 13 million school days are missed each year due to asthma.
  • Approximately 40% of children who have asthmatic parents will develop asthma.
  • Asthma accounts for 217,000 emergency room visits and 10.5 million physician office visits every year.
  • One out of every 10 school-aged children has asthma.
  • In a 2008 study less than half of the patients diagnosed with asthma reported being taught how to avoid trigger.