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Childhood asthma has become more widespread in recent decades. As the most common chronic illness in children, childhood asthma causes more missed school and places more limits on activity than does any other disease in the United States. Childhood asthma and adult asthma have the same underlying cause — inflammation of the airways. This inflammation makes the airways overly sensitive, leading to signs and symptoms that range from minor coughing or wheezing to serious flare-ups that interfere with breathing.
Fortunately, childhood asthma is treatable. Although childhood asthma can’t be cured, you and your child can keep symptoms under control with medical treatment that includes asthma education, a written plan, monitoring with regular doctor visits to adjust treatment.
Childhood asthma can be very disruptive, causing bothersome daily symptoms that interfere with play, sports, school and sleep. In some children, unmanaged asthma can cause serious or even life-threatening asthma attacks..
Common childhood asthma symptoms include:
- A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
- Shortness of breath
- Chest congestion or tightness
Other signs and symptoms of asthma in children include:
- Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
- Episodes of coughing or wheezing that get worse with a respiratory infection such as a cold or flu
- Delayed recovery or bronchitis after a respiratory infection
- Fatigue or trouble breathing during active play or exercise – signs of exercise-induced asthma
Asthma signs and symptoms vary from child to child and may get worse or better over time. While wheezing is most commonly associated with asthma not all children who have asthma wheeze. Your child may have only one sign or symptom such as a lingering cough or chest congestion.
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