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Asthma and kids

Asthma is a common, chronic disease that affects your airways. Approximately 20 million people in the United States have asthma and almost half of them are children. We asked Scott Schroeder, MD, Chief of Pediatric Pulmonology & Allergy at Tufts Medical Center at Tufts Medical Center to explain asthma and how it can impact children. 

What is asthma?

Asthma is a condition where the airways become narrow, swell up, and produce extra mucus, which causes difficulty breathing, wheezing, and/or shortness of breath. 

Is childhood asthma different from adult asthma?

They are the same disease, but asthma impacts children differently than adults. Kids’ with asthma have smaller airways than adults and asthma can be triggered by things we deal with every day like pollen or cold air. This can make it difficult for them to do normal kid activities like playing outside or even sleep, if left unmanaged. Or, in severe cases, it can trigger an asthma attack, which is an emergent situation that requires going to the hospital for treatment.

How is childhood asthma diagnosed?

As a parent, you are the most important member of your child’s healthcare team. It’s important that you make an appointment with your child’s doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • Your child is coughing often 
  • You hear a wheezing or whistling noise when your child exhales
  • They have shortness of breath
  • They complain that their chest feels “tight” or they indicate this feeling

Your doctor will listen to their breathing and, if they’re old enough, may order a chest x-ray to determine if they have asthma.

How is childhood asthma treated?

Asthma is a chronic condition that can be managed by avoiding triggers, like smoke, pollen, or dust, and by using medication to prevent symptoms and help with any sudden symptoms. 

Think your son or daughter may have asthma, call 617-636-8100 to make an appointment at the Tufts Medical Center Asthma Program. We will work with you and your child to develop an asthma management plan that takes your child’s individual needs into account. You’ll never feel like your child is just another patient. Instead, we strive to provide personalized, family-centered care, with the same physician dedicated to your child every time you visit us.