Childhood Asthma: Triggers, Symptoms, Causes
Childhood asthma is the most common chronic condition in children. Asthma in children causes chronic inflammation of the airways. That means the airways are always inflamed, even when kids aren’t having any symptoms. Asthma and allergies are closely linked, so when children with asthma breathe in allergens like dust, smoke, pet dander, cold air and pollen, their airways become irritated. In some kids, exercise irritates the airways. What happens next is the airways constrict, or tighten, and produce a lot of mucous. Children with asthma then begin to cough, wheeze, experience chest tightness and have difficulty breathing. This is called an asthma attack or flare-up.
No one knows what causes asthma in children, but kids who have a family history are more at risk. Kids who are born prematurely, have a lot of respiratory infections, eczema or allergies are also more at risk. Low-income kids are more likely to have asthma, but we don’t know why. African-American kids have the highest asthma rates and are more likely to end up hospitalized for asthma attack. Understanding allergies and asthma and learning to avoid asthma triggers can help all children with asthma prevent an asthma attack.
Featured Contributors: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Lung Association, Centers for Disease Control, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago
Topic Videos: Childhood Asthma
- What Is It? Childhood asthma is the most common chronic condition in children. It is not curable, but can be managed. Watch
- Trinity’s Story Asthma attacks had her in the emergency room a lot. Then, her mom learned to recognize the symptoms. Watch
- Why Does It Matter? Asthma in children is the leading cause of missed school days and a leading cause of hospitalization. Watch
- Tim’s Story He learned how to recognize asthma symptoms and use his asthma medication correctly – on his own. Watch
- What Can I Do About It? Asthma in children requires daily vigilance, but it doesn’t have to keep your child on the sidelines. Watch
- Tiffany’s Story Before her asthma was under control, she was in the intensive care unit a lot. Now, nothing gets in her way in the ring. Watch