Asthma - children

Pediatric asthma; Asthma - pediatric; Wheezing - asthma - children

Asthma is a disease that causes the airways to swell and get narrow. It leads to wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing.

Normal versus asthmatic bronchiole

During an asthma attack smooth muscles located in the bronchioles of the lung constrict and decrease the flow of air in the airways. The amount of air flow can further be decreased by inflammation or excess mucus secretion.

Peak flow meter

A peak flow meter is commonly used by a person with asthma to measue the amount of air that can be expelled from the lungs. If the airways become narrow or blocked due to asthma, peak flow values will drop because the person cannot blow air out of the lungs as well. A peak flow meter can be a useful aid in monitoring a person's asthma over time and can also be used to help determine how well a patient's medications are working.


The major features of the lungs include the bronchi, the bronchioles and the alveoli. The alveoli are the microscopic blood vessel-lined sacks in which oxygen and carbon dioxide gas are exchanged.

Common asthma triggers

Many of the same substances that trigger allergies can also trigger asthma. Common allergens include pollen, dust mites, mold and pet dander. Other asthma triggers include irritants like smoke, pollution, fumes, cleaning chemicals, and sprays. Asthma symptoms can be substantially reduced by avoiding exposure to known allergens and respiratory irritants.

Did you know that asthma is one of the most common disorders affecting children, as many as 10 percent of them? Thankfully, advances in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma have dramatically improved life for these children. Asthma is caused by swelling and other signs of inflammation in the airways. When an asthma attack occurs, the muscles surrounding the airways become tight and the lining of the air passages swells. This reduces the amount of air that can pass by the bronchioles, or small tubes, of the lung. Most asthma attacks are caused by triggers, such as pollen, dust mites, mold, pet dander, cockroaches, tobacco smoke, and exercise. Your child may have asthma if they experience shortness of breath, maybe gasp for air, and have trouble breathing out. When breathing gets very difficult, the skin of your child's chest and neck may suck inward. Your child may cough so hard at night he wakes from sleeping. He may have dark bags under his eyes and feel tired and irritable. Your child's doctor will listen to your child's lungs. The doctor will have your child breathe into a device called a peak flow meter. This device can tell you and your child's doctor how well the child can blow air out of his lungs. If asthma is narrowing and blocking your child's airways, his peak flow values will be low. To treat your child with asthma, you will need to work with your child's pediatrician, pulmonologist, or allergist as a team. Your child will need an action plan that outlines his asthma triggers and how to avoid them, how to monitor his symptoms, measuring peak flow, and taking medicines. You should have an emergency plan that outlines what to do when your child's asthma flares up, at home and in school. Make sure the school has a copy of your child's asthma action plan too. Your child will probably need to take two kinds of medicines, long-term control medicines and quick relief or rescue medicines. Your child will take long-term control medicines every day to prevent asthma symptoms, even when he has none. Your child will need to use quick relief medicines during an asthma attack. If your child needs to use an inhaler with his medicines, make sure the doctor shows him how to use a spacer device, to get the medicine into his lungs properly. Today, most children with properly managed asthma can lead a life unhindered by their disease. It shouldn't hold them back from even the highest levels of athletic competition. With proper education and medical management, it is possible to control this disease on a daily basis and prevent asthma attacks.



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Outlook (Prognosis)

When to Contact a Medical Professional