No one really knows what causes asthma especially on babies. But we all know that it is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. The causes of it differ from person to person: When airways come into contact with a trigger, they become inflamed, narrow, and fill with mucus which led to difficulty of breathing on babies.
In childhood asthma also known as pediatric asthma, the lungs and airways become easily inflamed when exposed to certain triggers, such as inhaling pollen or catching a cold or other respiratory infection. Baby asthma can cause irritation that can interfere with play, sports, school and sleep. In some babies, unmanaged asthma can cause dangerous asthma attacks and may lead to hospitalization.
Pediatric asthma isn’t a different disease from asthma in adults, but babies face unique challenges because of their young respiratory system. The condition is a leading cause of emergency department visits, hospitalizations and sometimes death if not prevented.
Unfortunately, asthma on babies can’t be cured, and symptoms can continue into adulthood. But with the right treatment, you and your child can keep symptoms under control and prevent damage to growing lungs.
Symptoms of Asthma on Babies
- Frequent coughing that worsens when your child has a viral infection, occurs while your child is asleep or is triggered by exercise or cold air
- A whistling or wheezing sound when breathing out
- Shortness of breath
- Chest congestion or tightness
Childhood asthma might also cause:
- Trouble sleeping due to shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
- Bouts of coughing or wheezing that get worse with a cold or the flu
- Delayed recovery or bronchitis after a respiratory infection
- Trouble breathing that hampers play or exercise
- Fatigue, which can be due to poor sleep
Asthma signs and symptoms differ from child to child, and might get worse or better over time. Your child might have only one indication, such as a lingering cough or chest congestion.
It can be difficult to tell whether your child’s symptoms are caused by asthma. Periodic or long-lasting wheezing and other asthma-like symptoms can be caused by infectious bronchitis or another respiratory problem.
Signs to see a Doctor
Take your little one to see the doctor if you suspect he or she has asthma. Early treatment will help control symptoms and possibly prevent asthma attacks.
- Coughing that is constant, is intermittent or seems linked to physical activity
- Wheezing or whistling sounds when your child breathes out
- Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
- Complaints of chest tightness
- Repeated episodes of suspected bronchitis or pneumonia
- Listen for coughing. Crying, laughing, yelling, or strong emotional reactions and stress also might trigger coughing or wheezing.
If your child is diagnosed with asthma, creating an asthma plan can help yo u and other family members to monitor symptoms and know what to do if an asthma attack occurs.
Possible Causes of Asthma on Babies
- Inherited tendency to develop allergies
- Parents with asthma
- Some types of airway infections at a very young age
- Exposure to environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke or other air pollution
- Viral infections such as the common cold
- Exposure to air pollutants, such as tobacco smoke
- Allergies to dust mites, pet dander, pollen or mold
- Physical activity
- Weather changes or cold air
In other cases asthma symptoms occur with no apparent triggers.
Factors that might increase your child’s likelihood of developing asthma include:
- Exposure to tobacco smoke, including before birth
- Previous allergic reactions, including skin reactions, food allergies or hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
- A family history of asthma or allergies
- Living in an area with high pollution
- Respiratory conditions, such as a chronic runny or stuffy nose (rhinitis), inflamed sinuses (sinusitis) or pneumonia
- Heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD)
- Being male
- Being black or Puerto Rican
Asthma can cause a number of complications, including:
- Severe asthma attacks that require emergency treatment or hospital care
- Permanent decline in lung function
- Missed school days or getting behind in school
- Poor sleep and fatigue
- Symptoms that interfere with play, sports or other activities
Careful planning and avoiding asthma triggers are the best ways to prevent asthma attacks.
- Limit exposure to asthma triggers. Help your child avoid the allergens and irritants that trigger asthma symptoms.
- Don’t allow smoking around your child. Exposure to people smoking during infancy is a strong risk factor for childhood asthma, as well as a common trigger of asthma attacks.
- Encourage your child to be active. As long as your child’s asthma is well-controlled, regular physical activity can help the lungs to work more efficiently.
- See the doctor when necessary. Check in regularly. Don’t ignore signs that your child’s asthma might not be under control, such as needing to use a quick-relief inhaler too often. Asthma changes over time. Consulting your child’s doctor can help you make needed treatment adjustments to keep symptoms under control.
- Help your child maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can worsen asthma symptoms, and it puts your child at risk of other health problems.