Asthma & Allergies
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, asthma is “a chronic disease of the tubes that carry air to the lungs”. The airways of children with asthma are irritated and inflamed all of the time and when their asthma flares, the lining of their airways becomes swollen and narrow, which makes it more difficult to breathe. If your child suffers from asthma, you may notice frequent coughing, wheezing, or feeling out of breath. Severe symptoms may include coughing that does not respond well to a fast acting inhaler, struggling to speak while breathing/gasping, or retractions (sunken skin between the child’s ribs).
Children with asthma experience irritated and inflamed airways which may worsen due to various circumstances such as cold air, exercise, colds and other infections, and exposure to dust, pets, mold, perfume, or secondhand smoke. Many children in the United States have asthma and diagnosing and treating asthma is an important aspect of pediatric care. Your child’s treatment will depend on the severity and frequency of symptoms and may include medications or (if possible) avoiding specific aggravators which trigger asthma.
Allergies are another of the most common chronic diseases experienced by children in the United States. Allergies may trigger asthma, but they are separate diseases. Allergies occur when a child’s immune system overreacts to a harmless substance, creating symptoms such as teary eyes, sneezing, dry cough or wheezing, eczema, hives, intestinal cramping or nausea, headaches, and fatigue (among others). If your child is experiencing symptoms of allergies, your provider may discuss options including avoiding triggers, allergy testing, medication that can alleviate or prevent symptoms, and a referral to an allergist if needed.