Of the over 19 million people who have asthma in the United States, nearly 6 million of them are children. This chronic disease makes it hard to breathe and thus can affect every aspect of your child’s life, from school to play. And with allergy season just around the corner, you might hear extra coughing and sneezing around the house. Whether you’re wondering if your child has asthma or they’ve already been diagnosed, here are the common symptoms to look out for, the treatment you can expect, and the impact COVID-19 could have on those with asthma.
What are the signs my child might have asthma?
The signs and symptoms of asthma can vary by child but, in general, some common signs your child might have the disease include coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, and tightness in the chest. The severity of these will also vary, with some cases being mild and manageable and more severe cases requiring emergency care.
Symptoms appear when your child is exposed to triggers like pollen or smoke. Triggers cause the airways to become inflamed, which causes swelling and mucus production, and leads to an overall narrowing of the air passageway making it harder to breathe and leading to the above symptoms.
Since symptoms of asthma can be signs of other ailments as well, it can be difficult to always know if what your child is experiencing is asthma. Coughing, for example, can also be a symptom of a cold or the flu. Another asthmatic symptom—wheezing—could also be caused by bronchitis or another respiratory problem.
This is where other asthmatic signs like your child saying “I’m always coughing” or “My chest feels funny,” can be helpful. Either way, if your child shows any of these symptoms, it can be a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor so your child can start getting treatment if needed.
How is asthma diagnosed?
Your doctor will likely use a few different methods to test if your child has asthma. First, they’ll ask for your child’s medical history, where they can share symptoms and any triggers they may have noticed. Then the doctor will conduct a physical exam which will look at your child’s nose and throat, their breathing, and skin for any signs of allergic conditions. They may also conduct a series of lung function tests and a chest or sinus X-ray.
The doctor will then look at the results of these tests to discern if your child has asthma and what type. From there, they will develop a treatment plan based on the type and severity of your child’s symptoms.
How can I treat my child’s asthma?
A quick-relief inhaler may be enough to keep symptoms under control for mild cases of asthma. Depending on how your child is doing, more treatments can be added if needed. Maintenance treatments can help reduce the need for quick-relief inhalers. In fact, how often these inhalers are used is an indicator of asthma control for doctors and can help them determine the proper treatment plan.
The second main aspect of treatment is avoiding triggers. The most common triggers include irritants such as air pollution, cold air, odors or smoke, as well as mold, dust mites, and pollen. Other triggers include sinus infections, exercise, heartburn, and allergic reactions.
Since the world is unpredictable, you can’t always control triggers, but you can take certain measures to help keep them in check, such as changing your diet when food reactions occur, minimizing smoking, and requesting an indoor air assessment. A variety of virtual asthma education classes and workshops are also offered online to help you learn best practices when it comes to prevention and treatment.
What effect does COVID-19 have on my child’s asthma?
According to the CDC, those with moderate to severe asthma may be at an increased risk for more severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19. To help reduce your risk, it’s recommended that you continue taking your current medicines, including any inhalers with corticosteroids in them. The CDC also recommends that you keep a 30-day supply of your asthma medications on hand so you don’t risk running out if you fall sick, need to quarantine, or otherwise can’t make it to the pharmacy.
In addition to these asthma-specific strategies, the everyday COVID-19 protocols of wearing a mask, socially distancing, and avoiding large crowds should be followed. If you’re worried that wearing a mask might affect asthma symptoms, research that came out last month showed that wearing a mask did not affect oxygen levels, regardless of whether the wearer had asthma or not.
If you have concerns about your condition or think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, you should call your healthcare provider. If you don’t have a provider, you can contact your nearest community health center or health department.
Many people live normal lives with proper asthma management. A good treatment plan, guidance from your doctor, and a reliable pharmacy can help you manage your child’s symptoms so they can keep doing most of those everyday activities they enjoy.
We’re here to help your child breathe easier
Whether you need to get your child’s first inhaler or obtain prescription refills, Alto is here every step of the way. Our pharmacists are on hand to answer any questions and our pharmacies around the country are fully stocked with asthma medications. We’re prepared and ready to deliver your medicines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure safety, we offer free, contactless drop-offs for every prescription, so you can get your refills on time in the comfort of your home. Reach out any time via in-app secure messaging or phone at 1-800-874-5881.
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.