Childhood asthma


Asthma is a chronic lung disease that affects the airways, causing inflammation when exposed to certain triggers. These triggers can include inhaling pollen or contracting a respiratory infection like a cold. In children, asthma can lead to daily symptoms that disrupt activities such as play, sports, school, and sleep. If left unmanaged, asthma can also result in severe asthma attacks, which can be life-threatening and occur suddenly or gradually over time.
While asthma can develop at any age, it commonly begins during childhood when the immune system is still developing. Most children experience their first asthma symptom before the age of 5. This condition can cause school absences and even necessitate hospitalization. Childhood asthma is essentially the same as asthma in adults, but it presents unique challenges in children.
Regrettably, there is no cure for childhood asthma, and symptoms may persist into adulthood. However, with appropriate treatment, you and your child can effectively control symptoms and prevent damage to the developing lungs.


Common symptoms of childhood asthma include the following:

  • Frequent episodes of coughing, which may occur during play, laughter, at night, or upon waking up. Sometimes, coughing can be the only symptom.
  • Reduced energy levels during physical activities or play.
  • Rapid breathing or feeling short of breath (dyspnea).
  • Complaints of chest tightness or pain in the chest.
  • Wheezing, which is a whistling sound heard when the child breathes in or out.
  • Retractions, where the area between the child’s ribs and neck sinks in when exhaling, indicating difficulty in breathing.
  • Feelings of weakness or tiredness.
  • Irritability.
  • Difficulty feeding, such as problems with sucking or eating.

It’s important to note that asthma symptoms can vary among children and may change over time. Some children may have only one symptom, like a persistent cough or chest congestion. It can sometimes be challenging to determine if these symptoms are caused by asthma or other respiratory issues, such as infectious bronchitis.
During an asthma attack (asthma exacerbation), the symptoms can significantly worsen. These attacks may occur slowly or suddenly and can be life-threatening in severe cases (known as status asthmaticus). If your child shows any of the following warning signs during a severe attack, it is crucial to seek immediate medical assistance:

  • Severe and persistent coughing.
  • Rapid deterioration of shortness of breath or wheezing.
  • Serious breathing difficulties.
  • Increased respiratory rate even at rest.
  • Paleness or bluish color in the face, lips, or fingernails.
  • Trouble speaking, inability to speak in sentences, or inability to speak at all.


Asthma’s exact cause is not yet fully understood by researchers, but it often emerges during childhood when a child’s immune system is still developing. Several factors can influence the development of asthma and the body’s response to germs. These factors include:

  • Genetics: A family history of asthma, such as having a parent with the condition.
  • Allergens: Substances in the environment that can trigger an allergic reaction in your child, like dust or tobacco smoke.
  • Viral infections at young age: Respiratory infections, such as the common cold, that can affect breathing and contribute to asthma development.
  • Physical activity
  • Weather changes and exposure to cold air.

Risk factors

There are several factors that could potentially heighten the likelihood of your child developing asthma. These factors include:

  • Exposure to tobacco smoke, both during pregnancy and after birth.
  • A history of allergic reactions, which may include skin reactions, allergies to specific foods, or allergic rhinitis (commonly known as hay fever).
  • A family history of asthma or allergies.
  • Residing in an area with high levels of pollution.
  • Obesity.
  • Respiratory conditions, like chronic nasal congestion, sinus inflammation, or pneumonia.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
  • Being male.