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February 12, 2020

What to know about asthma in kids

Causes, symptoms, and treatments

Children's Health Asthma

Content sponsored by IBC - Native (195x33)

Doctor examining patient with asthma parinyabinsuk/

Asthma is a chronic condition that causes the airways to narrow, swell up, and produce mucus. This can make breathing very difficult and trigger excessive coughing and wheezing. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 8.4 percent of children in the U.S. are living with asthma. While there is no cure for this common condition, the symptoms of asthma can be controlled with proper treatment.


There are currently no known causes of asthma, but most health experts believe that there are both environmental and genetic factors at play. Exposure to certain airborne allergens like pollen, dust mites, and mold spores are common asthma triggers. A respiratory infection, certain medications, and even stress can also trigger an attack.

For children, exposure to secondhand smoke, being overweight, or having another allergic condition can increase the risk of developing asthma. Some children can experience exercise-induced asthma, which is set off by vigorous physical activity.


Symptoms of asthma include shortness of breath, tightness or pain in the chest, coughing, and wheezing. A child with asthma may develop constant colds or even bronchitis.

If you notice mild symptoms in your child, make an appointment with a pediatrician to get an evaluation. A part of that evaluation will be a test to measure the airflow in and out of the lungs.

Seek emergency medical attention if your child experiences severe asthma symptoms like rapidly-worsening shortness of breath that impacts their ability to move around without triggering coughing and wheezing. You should also go to the emergency room if your child is already being treated for asthma, but the quick-relief inhaler isn’t offering any relief during an asthma attack.

Treating your child’s symptoms

The best way to manage your child’s asthma is to help them avoid common triggers and to work with the doctor to find the right medicine to reduce the number and severity of attacks.

Most asthma medicines are administered through an inhaler or nebulizer, but some come in pill form. Your child may need both long-term control medicines (like inhaled corticosteroids or long-acting beta agonists that prevent and control symptoms), as well as a quick-relief inhaler to take when experiencing symptoms.

If your child needs to use the quick-relief inhaler more than two days a week, talk to their doctor about adjusting the treatment. Mayo Clinic experts warn that taking too much asthma medication can exacerbate your child’s condition.

Knowing how to use an inhaler can be difficult for a child. For this reason, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends using a spacer with the inhaler to make it easier for the medication to get into the lungs properly. Also ask if a “breath-activated” inhaler is right for your child. This type of inhaler releases the medicine automatically when your child inhales.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America offers free resources for managing asthma symptoms at school, including what school forms you’ll need to complete to ensure your child’s asthma action plan is on file.

It’s possible for children with asthma to lead an active life by keeping symptoms under control. Always take extra precautions to ensure that your child is in safe, healthy environments free of asthma triggers, and that they always have their quick relief inhaler on hand for emergencies.

Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. If you have, or suspect that you have, a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.

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