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Pediatric Asthma

Children’s Health℠ provides comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of children with asthma. Our Asthma Management program offers environmental assessment, asthma education and self-management skills to help children and their parents deal with the complexities of the condition. It was the first such program in Texas to receive disease-specific certification by The Joint Commission for pediatric asthma care.

What is Pediatric Asthma?

Pediatric asthma is one of the most common chronic childhood conditions and occurs when airways become swollen and inflamed. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed effectively. Children with asthma have sensitive airways that become more irritated with certain triggers. This makes it difficult for them to breathe. 

What is an asthma attack?

Certain environmental factors can act as a “trigger” for a person with asthma. The trigger causes muscles that wrap around the airways to tighten, making breathing harder. When triggered, the child will experience breathing problems, which is either called an asthma flare-up, asthma episode or an asthma attack.

What are the signs and symptoms of Pediatric Asthma?

Once a child experiences an asthma attack, they are at a greater risk of having another episode for several days. Symptoms of an asthma attack or flare up include:

  • Wheezing (whistling sound) when breathing
  • Coughing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Labored breathing
  • Complaints of chest hurting
  • Reduced energy
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Chest congestion
  • Trouble sleeping (due to the above symptoms)
  • Bronchitis that doesn't go away
  • Fatigue (due to lack of sleep)

Seek immediate care if your child:

  • Needs to stop mid sentence to catch her breath
  • Uses his abdominal muscles to breathe
  • Has nostrils that expand when she is breathing in
  • Has breathing that is so difficult his abdomen is “sucked” under his ribcage when he inhales

How is Pediatric Asthma diagnosed?

To diagnose asthma, your child’s doctor will do a complete physical exam of your child and ask you about what you have observed with regard to your child coughing, wheezing or complaining of a tight chest. Several other common childhood conditions have asthma-like symptoms, so your doctor will try to rule out other causes, such as hay fever and sinusitis.

There are a number of tests that are useful in diagnosing asthma and your child’s doctor may recommend a combination of:

  • A lung function test, in which the doctor will use a spirometer to measure how quickly and how much air your child can exhale. Your child may have lung function tests at rest, after exercising and after taking asthma medication. This test can be performed on children as young as 2 to 3 years old.
  • A chest X-ray, to look at the condition of your child’s lungs.
  • An exhaled nitric oxide test, where your child will be asked to breathe into the mouthpiece of a special machine in order to measure the amount of inflammation present in the airways.

What are the causes of Pediatric Asthma?

Triggers of an asthma attack can include:

  • Airborne mold spores
  • Changing weather conditions
  • Cold air
  • Dust mites
  • Exercise
  • Furry animals
  • Pollen
  • Smoke
  • Viral infections
  • Stress
  • Viral infections

Babies are especially prone to food allergies that may trigger an asthma attack. Common food allergies in American children include the following:

  • Peanuts
  • Cow’s milk
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Soybeans (and products made from them)
  • Tree nuts

How is Pediatric Asthma treated?

Your child will be cared for by a medical team with experience in treating asthma. While some children simply outgrow asthma-like symptoms over time, there are a number of medications that can safely and effectively treat asthma in children. Most of those medications are inhaled, and they include:

  • Long-term control medications, which are used on a daily basis to prevent attacks.
  • Quick relief, or rescue medications, which are used to relieve symptoms during an attack such an asthma inhaler.

Our asthma specialist team will also work closely with you to help you understand how to control the condition in order to keep your child safe and healthy.

Asthma Action Plan

The asthma action plan is very important to keeping asthma under control:

  • It tells you what “asthma zone” you’re in base on how you are feeling, whether you are in the green, yellow, or red zone
  • It tells you what medicines to take and when to take them
  • It tells when to call the doctor or when to go to the emergency room.

All the people that care for your child should have a copy of your children’s asthma action plan. Please make sure babysitters, the daycare center, the school nurse have a copy of this form so they can help your child follow their action plan.

A copy of your child’s Asthma Action Plan can be found under "My Healthcare World", "Documents Letters" While you/your child is a part of the Asthma Management Program. When you are no longer in the program, check with your doctor for any changes to your Asthma Action Plan.

View our asthma action plan guide and view the video below about asthma action plans.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the outlook for my child with asthma?

    While some children simply outgrow asthma-like symptoms over time, there are a number of medications that can safely and effectively treat children for whom this becomes a life-long condition.

  • What should I do if my child has an asthma attack?

    During attacks, stay calm and soothe your child. This may help your child relax and breathe more easily. It is important to treat your child's asthma attacks quickly using the prescribed rescue inhaler. If your child does not improve soon after treating an attack, call your doctor immediately. Because it is often hard to know how much breathing difficulty a baby or small child is having, call 9-1-1 for emergency help right away.