Asthma in babies

Did you know that most children with asthma have symptoms before they turn 5? It’s hard to recognize the symptoms in very young children because their bronchial tubes are already small and narrow, and anything can cause an inflammation, from colds to other illnesses.

Common symptoms of pediatric asthma are:

  • Persistent coughing, especially at night
  • Labored or noisy breathing, with respiration rate increased 50% or more above normal
  • Wheezing or panting with normal activities, especially while exhailing
  • Frequent colds that settle in the chest
  • Lethargy and disinterest in normal or even favorite activities
  • Difficulty sucking or eating
  • Softer or different crying sounds

A child might have only one of these symptoms, or several of them. These may worsen with irritants or allergens in air, such as smoke, strong odors, pollen, pet dander, or dust mites. Asthma can resemble a cold or bronchitis but persistent symptoms are a clue that the child may have asthma.

Treating asthma needs a two-pronged approach:

  • Quick relief to treat the coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath that occur during an asthma attack. This is usually given through an inhaler. It’s strongly recommended to keep an inhaler with the right medication with a child who has asthma.
  • Long-term control, uses medicines to treat the inflammation of the airways, as a preventive against attacks.

What can be done to reduce asthma symptoms in very young children?

There is some evidence that breastfeeding helps prevent children from developing eczema and food allergies in the first years of life, but does not reduce asthma. If your child has allergies, you can reduce asthma symptoms by controlling allergy triggers in your child’s environment. Focus on those areas where the child spends the most time.
Some suggestions:

  •  Cover the pillows, mattress, and box springs in allergen- proof casings. These coverings are available at many retail stores that sell bedding and from allergy supply companies.
  • Wash bed linens weekly in 130° water.
  • Use washable area carpets, and wash them regularly.
  • Allow only washable stuffed animals. Wash favorites weekly, and wash any others regularly.
  • Vacuum weekly or more.
  • Don’t allow pets in the bedroom. Don’t allow pets in the house at all if allergies are severe.
  • Use air purifiers with a HEPA filter (only for animal dander sensitive children if there is an animal in the house).
  • For all children: Do not allow smoking in the house. Even if someone smokes in the basement of a multi- storied home, the smoke filters through the vents to all parts of the house.

Source: Allergy & Asthma Foundation of America

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