Diagnosing Asthma in Children

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Sally Robinson, a professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children's Hospital in Galveston, TX, offers advice on diagnosing asthma in children in The Galveston County Daily News:

Asthma is the No. 1 reason that children miss school in the United States and the most common chronic illness that sends kids to the emergency room.

Some children have only mild, occasional asthma flare-ups, or only show signs after exercising, while others have such severe asthma that it affects their activity level and causes changes in the way their lungs function.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes airways to tighten. Asthma flare-ups often appear to happen without warning, even after weeks or months without symptoms. All children who suffer from asthma have airways that are overly sensitive to triggers, such as exercise, allergies, viral infections and smoke. When children with asthma are exposed to triggers such as these, their airway linings become inflamed, swollen and filled with mucus, and the muscles that line the airways tighten and shrink, which makes it difficult for air to move through them. A child experiencing an asthma flare-up may cough, wheeze and sweat, and may feel tightness in the chest, increased heart rate and shortness of breath.

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