We typically diagnose asthma with a medical exam and test that measures the airflow in the lungs. Preschool-aged children may not be able to complete the airflow test, which requires blowing very hard into a tube. Infants and toddlers typically cannot describe how they feel, so parents and other family members or caregivers should be aware and alert for symptoms. Allergies and asthma run in families. If you have a family history of asthma or allergies, you or your child may be referred to an allergy specialist.
Dr. Mardiney may perform tests to determine if your child has allergies that can cause asthma symptoms. He might also prescribe one or more asthma medicines. If your child gets better while taking the medicine, it can be a signal that your child’s symptoms are due to asthma.
Most children with asthma have symptoms before they reach age 5. It may be difficult for parents and doctors to recognize that symptoms are caused by asthma. Infants, toddlers and preschoolers have bronchial tubes that are already small and narrow. Head colds, chest colds and other illnesses can inﬂame these airways, making them even smaller.
Common symptoms of pediatric asthma can range from nagging cough that lingers for days or weeks to sudden, frightening breathing emergencies, including:
- Coughing, especially at night
- Wheezing or whistling sounds when exhaling
- Troubled breathing/fast breathing that tightens skin around the ribs or neck
- Frequent colds that settle in the chest
Your child can have just one symptom or several. You may suspect it’s a cold or bronchitis. Recurring symptoms may indicate that your child might have asthma. Symptoms can worsen when your child is near asthma triggers such as smoke and strong odors or allergens like pollen, pet dander and dust mites.
Whether asthma symptoms are mild or severe, they are always serious because even mild symptoms can quickly turn life-threatening. Poorly controlled and undiagnosed asthma in small children can cause trips to the emergency room, hospital stays, suffering and missed workdays for parents. It’s critical for an asthmatic child to receive proper treatment based on the severity and frequency of symptoms. Dr. Mardiney may prescribe two types of medicines for pediatric asthma:
Quick relief: An asthmatic child needs quick-relief medicine to treat the coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath that occur during an asthma attack. This medicine (a rescue inhaler) should be with your child at all times for use when symptoms first start.
Long-term control: Some children need this type of medicine to treat the quiet part of asthma, which is the inﬂammation of airways. When taken daily, this type of medicine can prevent asthma attacks.
Dr. Mardiney or a member of his team can teach you how to use both so you can determine which works better. Asthma medicine is safe and effective when used as directed. If medicines don’t help and your child cannot avoid asthma triggers, you will have to determine whether his or her symptoms are triggered by exposure to pet dander or a pollen allergen. In that case, Dr. Mardiney may recommend allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy.
If you think your child has asthma, speak to Dr. Mardiney. As a board-certified allergist, he can diagnose your child and help you create an action plan for determining when your child’s asthma is under control, when to change medicine and when you need emergency help. Asthmatic children should have a flu shot each fall. Children with egg allergies should avoid the nasal-spray version of the flu vaccine. Children who are allergic to eggs should get their flu shot in their doctor’s office instead of a drugstore chain or a supermarket pharmacy.
Don’t suffer with allergies or asthma any longer. Call Advanced Allergy & Asthma Centers at 443-987-6998 in Bel Air or 443-519-2128 in Lutherville and Towson. Or use our convenient Request an Appointment form. We also welcome patients from Baltimore and Carney.