Could your child have asthma?

According to the American Lung Association, an estimated 6.5 million U.S. children under the age of 18 suffer from asthma. Approximately 200,000 children are hospitalized each year because of the disease.* Although asthma is serious and the most common chronic disease among children, the condition can be managed with proper treatment so children with asthma can lead active, normal lives.

Unfortunately, asthma is often misdiagnosed and, as a result, goes untreated. By learning more about the symptoms of asthma and working with your child’s pediatrician, you can help ensure that your child gets help if he or she needs it.

See the signs:
Up to 80 percent of children with asthma develop symptoms before age 5.* A child does not have to wheeze to have asthma. Instead, he or she may only experience a frequent and annoying cough, especially at night or when exercising, playing or laughing.
Symptoms of asthma also include:
• Your child complains of chest tightness or shortness of breath.
• Colds go right to your child’s chest and last much longer than for other siblings.
• Your child has less stamina during play than other children.
• Your child misses school or avoids physical activity.
• Your family has a history of asthma or allergies.

If you suspect your child might suffer from asthma, keep track of details that can be shared with your pediatrician, such as possible triggers (for example, certain allergens, exercise or cold weather), and the frequency and severity of symptoms. Sharing these observations with a physician can help everyone work together to alleviate asthma symptoms.

Control the condition

Brottman_GailGail Brottman, MD, is a specialist in pediatric pulmonology at Hennepin County Medical Center. She says, “It’s safe to play outside and be active. You just need to control your asthma. Children with asthma need the help of their parents, teachers and health care professionals to reduce inflammation and narrowing in their airways and keep the disease under control. Managing asthma typically includes ensuring that medications are used correctly, reducing exposure to allergens and other triggers and encouraging physical activity.”

Some tips include:
• Use your rescue inhaler before you play or exercise.
• Take your rescue inhaler with you in case of an asthma attack.
• Avoid secondhand smoke and campfire smoke.
• Listen for air quality alerts on the news, and on those days, play inside.
• Be aware of allergies, which can also be a trigger.
If you suspect that your child might have asthma, contact your pediatrician to learn more or make an appointment at an Hennepin Clinic, call 612-873-6963.

*Source: American Academy of Allergy Asthma

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