Does Your Child Have Asthma?

The American Lung Association offers this list of symptoms that may indicate asthma:

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  • Allergies

  • Shortness of breath

  • Tight chest

  • Hard to breathe while exercising

  • Missed school

  • Always coughing

The difficulty expelling breath often results in the wheezing or whistling sound that characterizes asthma. However, coughing is the most common symptom in children. Any child who has frequent coughing or respiratory infections should be evaluated for asthma, especially if he or she coughs after running or crying or during the night.

It’s usually difficult to hear wheezing in infants less than 24 months old. Instead, parents should watch for a rattly cough, rapid breathing and an excessive number of “pneumonias,” episodes of bronchitis or chest colds. They should be alert for respiratory symptoms that continue long after colds are over or happen separately from colds. These are indications of “hidden” asthma that often goes undiagnosed in its early stages.

“Parents should keep in mind that asthma is epidemic,” says Greg Redding, M.D., North American coordinator for the International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Children. “If you suspect asthma, ask your doctor about it.”