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May is Asthma & Allergy Awareness Month

Asthma Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors

 The number of children with asthma has risen dramatically in the past few decades. Could your child be the one in every ten children who is affected by what is now the most common chronic disease of childhood? Here’s what parents need to know.

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​Asthma is a condition that tends to run in families where overly sensitive airways swell, tighten and produce excess mucus. Who’s at the highest risk of developing asthma? Children who have a history of:

  • Being born premature;
  • Live with smokers; or
  • Come from families with parents or close relatives who have allergies or asthma.

Researchers are still trying to figure out exactly what factors prompt asthma to develop in susceptible children but asthma seems to result from both an inherited tendency and exposure to environmental factors. About half of children with asthma develop symptoms by age two and about 80 percent will have symptoms by age five. Detecting asthma in babies and toddlers can be difficult. Especially when younger children get certain respiratory infections, their tiny airways are filled easily with mucus. This can lead to the wheezing sound that may sound like asthma but isn’t. Monitoring for the below symptoms every time your child gets a cold or viral illness helps predict the chances your child may have asthma:

  • Shortness of breath;
  • Chest tightness;
  • Coughing—especially at night, early in the morning or during /after exercise;
  • Wheezing; or
  • Any of the above that commonly occur when your child gets a cold or respiratory virus.

If you think your child may have asthma, don’t wait. Take them to see a doctor. A medical history, certain breathing and allergy tests can help determine if treatment is needed. What is causing the asthma symptoms? Possible culprits include cigarette smoke, dust mites and pets to which many people have an allergic reaction. Allergies are a common trigger for asthma symptoms. Work with the doctor to find your child’s allergic triggers. Then discuss ways to avoid or control them. If your child has allergies, managing the triggers may lead to fewer asthma problems.

To access the full article on asthma causes and risk factors for kids, click here.

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