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5 signs of bronchial asthma in young children

Frequent acute respiratory infections or bronchial asthma: how do you know if your child needs a special diagnosis?

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Asthma is the most common lung disease in children. Undiagnosed or poorly treated asthma in young children can lead not only to routine hospitalizations, but also to the need for emergency care. The fact that a young child usually cannot express his or her distress means that an incorrect or delayed diagnosis is not uncommon.

Children often have a variety of acute respiratory infections that can mask signs of bronchial asthma, which contributes to lung tissue damage.

Children’s or pediatric asthma is the same disease as asthma in adults, but children experience slightly different symptoms. And parents need to be aware of them so they can see a doctor in time to start controlling the disease. Here’s what you need to pay attention to.

Confused breathing or shortness of breath

One of the most common signs that a child may have asthma is frequent shortness of breath. The pulmonary airways become narrow and swollen and fill with mucus because of asthma.

When a child suffers an asthma attack, the muscles surrounding the airways tense and the mucous membrane of the airways swells. As a result, less air enters the lungs, causing shortness of breath.

Note any rapid breathing or signs that may indicate forced breathing.


Experts at the American Asthma and Allergy Foundation point out that there are several risk factors for developing asthma in infants. Risk factors may include a family history of asthma, allergies and atopic dermatitis or eczema, and respiratory infections. A baby is also at higher risk for asthma if there was a premature birth or if the mother smoked during pregnancy.

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In addition, researchers at Erasmus University Rotterdam have concluded that maternal depression and anxiety during pregnancy are significantly associated with both asthma and impaired lung function in their children.

Persistent wheezing.

Persistent wheezing

Recurrent or persistent wheezing is a typical symptom of asthma. Whistling wheezing is a whistling sound that occurs when a child breathes in and out. The wheezing is caused by constriction of the airways as well as inflammation anywhere between the throat and the lungs.

Although wheezing on its own may not be a sign that a child has asthma, when combined with other symptoms, it can be a sign of illness. There are other conditions that can cause wheezing, including bronchitis, allergies, and airway infections. Read more about possible causes of wheezing in children in a separate article.

Chest tightness

Chest tightness is another common symptom of asthma. It is often associated with chest and stomach pain. The baby may feel that something is pressing or squeezing his chest. In such cases, the baby may cry or grip his chest in pain.

Constipation or tightness in the chest may be frequent, infrequent, or persistent, depending on the child’s condition. This symptom may occur alone or along with other asthma symptoms.


A new study has shown that in babies who grow up in villages, the gut microbiome undergoes changes early in life that protect against the development of asthma.

Researchers from the Allergy Protection Project: a study in a rural environment confirmed previous beliefs that early contact with farm animals (e.g., in the countryside) helps build stronger immunity to allergies and asthma due to microbes produced in the gut flora.

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They found that a relatively large part of the protective “village effect” against childhood asthma was mediated by maturation of the gut microbiome in the first year of life through exposure to environmental factors.

The Univercity of Munich study also found that Roseburia and Coprococcus bacteria were the most beneficial. Children who grew up around farm animals had more of these bacteria in their intestines compared to other children.

Frequent coughing

Coughing in a child is most often caused by SARS or bronchitis, but it can also be a symptom of asthma. If the cough is frequent or does not go away after a while, you need to find out if asthma is the cause. A recurrent cough usually occurs late at night or early in the morning.

The cough can get worse if the child is sick with a viral infection. An attack can also be triggered by cold air or exercise, or develop when the child sleeps. Be sure to see your pediatrician if your child’s cough persists for more than two weeks.

Sleep Problems

Sleep Problems

If your baby has trouble falling asleep, it may be a sign of asthma: intermittent sleep is one of the companions of this condition. Asthma symptoms, such as trouble breathing, coughing, or wheezing, are usually most pronounced at night. A study by researchers at the University of Alberta suggests that chronic insomnia may exacerbate asthma symptoms.

Fortunately, treating childhood asthma usually eliminates sleep problems.

How do doctors diagnose asthma?

Asthma is usually diagnosed after an interview and review of medical history, as well as a physical examination and tests to measure the flow of air into and out of the lungs. The test can be quite tricky for the baby because it requires blowing hard into a special tube.

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Blood tests or skin allergy tests can help determine if your baby has allergic reactions that cause worsening conditions and asthma attacks.

Although there is no cure for asthma to cure the disease, it is possible to relieve symptoms and control the disease to prevent lung damage. Early diagnosis and initiation of therapy also helps to get the right medications and dosages more quickly, protecting your baby from frightening attacks and helping him or her grow and develop better.

Sources used

An approach to the asthma-protective farm effect by geocoding: Good farms and better farms / Müller-Rompa SEK, Markevych I, Hose AJ, et al. // Pediatr Allergy Immunol. – 2018

Parental psychological distress during pregnancy and the risk of childhood lower lung function and asthma: a population-based prospective cohort study / van Meel ER, Saharan G, Jaddoe VW, et al // Thorax – 2020

Individual circadian preference (chronotype) is associated with asthma and allergic symptoms among adolescents / Prasun Haldar, Anne-Elie Carsin, Smriti Debnath, et al // ERJ Open Research – 2020

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