Asthma in Children


Asthma is a chronic lung disease. It is common in children. Children with asthma have trouble breathing. This happens when their airways become irritated and swollen. Many children who have asthma begin showing symptoms by age five.

Risk Factors

Asthma is more common in children who have certain risk factors. It is linked to allergies, eczema and low birth weight. It is linked to exposure to tobacco smoke before and after birth. Asthma is more common in boys (but after age 15, more women than men have asthma). It is more common in children who have a family history of asthma. It is also more common in children who have frequent respiratory infections.


Asthma can be triggered by certain things. Pet dander, dust mites, pollen and cigarette smoke are common triggers. Asthma can be triggered by air pollution and by changes in the weather. It is also affected by physical exercise and strong emotions. Triggers vary from person to person.


Symptoms of asthma include coughing spells, whistling or wheezing sounds, shortness of breath and chest congestion. A child may complain of tightness or pain in the chest. A child who has asthma may wake up frequently during the night because of coughing, and may feel tired because of lack of sleep. These symptoms may worsen when a child gets a cold or the flu. When severe symptoms flare up quickly, this is commonly called an "asthma attack."


Several types of medicines can help children with asthma. Some control asthma day-to-day, and others relieve sudden attacks. A doctor should develop a custom management plan that's right for your child.