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When can we find out if our children have asthma? What are things we should look out for?

Typically, asthma starts in childhood. It is a leading cause of chronic disease in children. Over five million children under the age of 18 have asthma. The most common signs and symptoms of asthma in children include:

  • Recurrent or chronic cough
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Trouble talking
  • Disruption of sleep (from cough and respiratory symptoms)
  • Trouble with exercise
  • Absences from school because of respiratory problems

Some children with asthma have more difficulty getting over a viral illness. This is due to a lingering cough and wheezing. A family history of asthma, allergies, and/or atopic dermatitis would raise the suspicion of an asthma diagnosis in a child.

Discuss these symptoms with your healthcare provider. Asthma and similar respiratory problems will be considered in a workup. Also, lung function testing (e.g., spirometry) can be performed in children over five years of age. This can be useful in the diagnosis of asthma.

Finally, consult with an allergy and asthma specialist. They can be very helpful in making a diagnosis. It can help with establishing an effective treatment plan.

Asthma, Diagnosis
Answered by

John M. James, MD, is a board-certified allergist. He is also President of Food Allergy Consulting and Education Services, LLC. He has worked as a medical specialist in the field of allergy, asthma, and immunology for over 30 years. Dr. James received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Tennessee. He is board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

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