All About Asthma

October 19, 2016 6:25 pm



Asthma is a pulmonary condition that may be responsible for minimal symptoms or great distress requiring an alteration in one’s lifestyle. Typically, but not always, there is a family history of difficulty with asthma.


Often beginning in the fall season, when the weather begins to change, a young child – typically less than 3 years – will present with a cough and/or a wheeze. This condition is often given the name ‘bronchiolitis’ and is related to a viral respiratory illness (likely, the best-known of these is RSV: albeit typically more of a wintertime disease).  This condition may be brief or prolonged – sometimes requiring albuterol, extra oxygen, or antibiotics – and some children even require hospitalization for more intensive and supportive treatment.   Many of these children will have less difficulty with this condition as they get older, because the airways become less reactive to mucus and secretions.   Some children, especially those with a pre-existing lung condition, may have life-long difficulty with this problem.


Asthma presents itself in a number of distinctive ways: including wheeze, chronic cough, shortness of breath, and nighttime cough. Sometimes the child will have a persistent cough with breathing problems; there may be wheezing or coughing with exercise; the nighttime cough may interrupt sleep of the patient and the family.  There are quite a few medical treatment options for the asthma condition, and you doctor can help you identify a good medical treatment plan.  The goal of therapy is to help the patient breath better and to engage in the routine activities of daily living – including vigorous exercise as able.


In addition to exercise, asthma has a number of identifiable ‘triggers’; some of these are exposure to primary or secondary smoke, allergies (grass, trees, pollen), infection, and weather changes.


Croup, an acute condition that presents with a distinctive barky cough, is only mentioned in this forum to note that some children with recurrent croup may be at risk for developing asthma.


Be sure to contact your personal medical practitioner if you have concerns or questions about your child’s medical condition with respect to how (s)he is breathing, sleeping, and tolerating exercise.