How You Can Help To Diagnose Pediatric Asthma
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Paediatric asthma is the most common chronic disease presenting in babies and children. It is difficult to diagnose and common symptoms include coughing and chest tightness. Find out how you can help to diagnose and manage your child’s condition by being aware of common symptoms and risk factors.
When it comes to your kids, the thought of a potentially lifelong asthma diagnosis doesn’t bear thinking about.
But with pediatric asthma, also known as Childhood asthma, being the most common serious chronic disease in infants and children, and often being difficult to diagnosis, it’s important to ⇨ ⇨ look out for those key signs ⇦
If you think your baby or child might have asthma, or you’ve been told your kid has suspected asthma, read on to find out the common causes, symptoms, and triggers to help you gain that
oh so important asthma diagnosis.
1. Watch Out For Those Important Symptoms
In infants and children, asthma may show itself as any number of symptoms, such as:
- Also know as a whistling sound
- This will take place when your child is breathing
- Not just any old cough. Pay close attention to a niggling cough that won’t go away or one that keeps coming back.
- Watch out for a cough that is particularly prevalent late at night or when they wake up. This symptom is common in children with asthma.
- They may cough more after doing exercise or when being active.
- If their breathing seems a little off, listen out for fast or laboured breathing.
- Pay particular attention to their body and look closely to see if they’re using lots of their body when breathing in and out. In kids, it may be that they shrug their shoulders up and down.
Complaints Of Chest Tightness
- Because you’re dealing with your little one(s), they might describe it is a ‘tummy ache’ or tummy pain.
- As a child, they might rub their tummy or chest.
- Your kid might have less energy than usual.
- They might also complain to you about feeling weak or tired.
If your kid does have asthma, you might find they only display symptoms when exercising, playing a sport or being active.
This is also known as exercise-induced bronchospasm.
In much the same way as it is for adults, pediatric asthma, unfortunately cannot be cured. However, it’s important to know that with the right medications and a spot-on treatment plan, your kids symptoms can be controlled.
This is extremely important in order to prevent damage to growing lungs.
It’s also crucial to be aware of risk factors
when it comes to the potential onset of asthma.
- Genetics/Family history of allergies and/or asthma
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Low birth weight
- Second-hand smoke. This can be before or after the birth
- Growing up in a city or urban environment
Follow the process outlined by Asthma UK,
For what to do when you believe your little one may be experiencing an
Making a 999 call
If it looks as though your child is struggling to breathe, you will need to make an emergency 999 call.
Key signs to look for are:
Their tummy sucking in
Their ribs standing out
Obvious sucking in at the front of their throat
Them not being able to finish sentences or eat because they are so breathless
2. That All Important Doctor’s Appointment
☆ Whenever you think your baby or child might be experiencing asthma symptoms, write them down, along with the dates and times when they get them ☆
For example, if they are experiencing certain symptoms such as coughing and wheezing late at night, early in the day or even at certain times of the year.
Be aware and jot down other important signs, such as cigarette smoke, animal interaction or any exercise they were undertaking at the time.
By taking a record of your child’s symptoms along to the first appointment, your doctor will thank you as they can then use this as a way to highlight any potential triggers when it comes to your kid’s asthma symptoms.
As a way to make it extra fun for the kids, you could try out this fun child friendly tickbox chart as a way to capture and record symptoms and medications taken.
☆ Record or film your child’s symptoms on your phone ☆
- As an extra measure to try and help show your doctor exactly what symptoms your baby might be exhibiting, record their symptoms on your phone.
This is especially important for signs such as a cough or wheeze.
As well as the doctor seeing it first hand, it will help to support your awareness of these asthma symptoms.
☆ Consider any potential questions and have answers ready ☆
Was your child born early and/or have a low birth weight?
Were you or your child around smoke during pregnancy?
Do people sometimes smoke around your baby?
Does your kid have any skin conditions, such as eczema, or any allergies?
Does anyone in your family have asthma, eczema, or other allergies?
Where do you live? Is it an urban location, prone to pollution?
Does your home have mould or damp?
Have your kids been exposed to any pets in the home?
Has your child had any respiratory illnesses or infections?
☆ Don’t forget to note down any potential questions YOU may have for the GP ☆
“Why is my little one always coughing?”
“Will they need medication or an inhaler?”
“Will their symptoms ever go away?”
And if you’re worried about what you might be asking?
Asthma UK’s in-house GP, Dr Andy Whitmore advises not to “..be worried about your questions being ‘wrong’ or ‘silly”. The more you find out about your child’s symptoms the more you can help. And your GP or nurse will be happy to run through your list with you.”
3. **The Diagnosis**
So the day is here. You’ve arrived at the potential asthma diagnosis.
And you may be surprised to learn that there are various ways of testing for paediatric asthma.
Medicines & Inhalers
If you’ve had the appointment, show your GP your kid’s symptoms, and if they think it’s pretty likely that your child does have asthma, they might prescribe a preventer inhaler. This is to see if it improves their symptoms.
Reasons for a preventer inhaler include:
- your child getting a lot of symptoms
- The presence of eczema, hay fever or other allergies
- Yourself or a family member having eczema, hay fever or allergies.
This may be called a ‘trial of treatment’. Due to asthma being caused by inflammation in the airway, the preventer inhaler works as a way to calm it down and help with breathing.
If the preventer medicines do work, it point to your child’s airways being inflamed, and this is a positive step in the diagnosis process.
Medical asthma tests
If your kid has big enough lungs – usually at age 5 and above – this will be the next obvious step in terms of diagnosing asthma.
Undertaking tests such as these can be difficult, as they will need to follow instructions.
These type of medical test will measure how well their lungs are working and will further help to test for lung conditions.
These tests will be as follows:
- Peak flow
- Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide test (FeNO)
4. Staying On Track
After the important (and relieving) diagnosis, your next, and continuous step will of course be to keep a watchful eye on your child’s condition.
Your doctor can’t be with you all time to check in on their symptoms, but you’ll know your child better than anyone and so can help to be those
ultra important eyes and ears for the GP.
Tracking symptoms will help to assist healthcare professionals, such as asthma nurses and consultants as a way for them to quickly see your child’s symptom history.
You can also track your child’s symptoms based on their prescribed medications and to help identify triggers.
Download this incredibly helpful Child’s Asthma Action Plan, as a way to document and manage their asthma condition.
By taking these small steps and incorporating them into both yours and your child’s daily routine, you’ll be on track to managing their condition in the best way possible.