Management of Asthma in Children

By Dr. Agya Singh Kochar in Centre for Chest & Respiratory Diseases

Apr 24 , 2023 | 1 min read

Asthma is a medical condition that results in breathlessness. During an asthma attack, the airway muscles tighten, airway lining becomes inflamed, and mucus builds up forcing the individual to gasp for breath. The symptoms of asthma only occur during flare-ups and are hereditary in nature.

Symptoms of Asthma

Asthma symptoms include:

  • Wheezing or noisy breathing
  • Coughing, especially during the night or early morning or during exercise
  • Difficulty breathing.

These symptoms can be mild to severe and can occur daily, weekly, or less frequently.

Common Asthma Triggers

Common asthma triggers include:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Stress
  • Viral infections
  • Strong perfumes or odors
  • Air pollution
  • Exercise
  • Very cold and dry air, particularly in the winter season.

Other triggers include dust mites, moulds, pet dander, pollen, and cockroach droppings. Allergic triggers can be identified through blood or skin tests.

Diagnosis and treatment of Asthma

Asthma can be diagnosed by a spirometry test, which measures lung function, in children above 6 years of age, or by examining the patient's symptoms.

Asthma is treated using inhalers, which are effective, safe, and quick-acting medications with minimal side effects. Contrary to popular belief, they are not strong or addictive. Quick-relief medications are used when the child experiences symptoms of coughing or difficulty breathing, while long-term controller medications are used for frequent symptoms or multiple severe episodes in a year. Children with asthma use an inhaler with a device called a ‘spacer,’ and some may need a machine called a ‘nebulizer’ in a hospital setting if they are having trouble breathing.

Untreated asthma can prevent children from participating in normal activities, such as playing sports, cause them to miss school, and damage their lungs. If a child's symptoms do not improve or worsen after using a quick-relief medication, they should see a doctor.

Preventing Asthma

Asthma symptoms can be prevented by giving the child their daily controller medication and avoiding triggers. Some children may grow out of asthma as they age, while others may continue to experience symptoms into adulthood.