Asthma

​Asthma is an irritative inflammation of the bronchial mucosae, the symptoms of which include constriction and irritability of the bronchi. It is the most common long-term disease in children. Approximately 4–7% of children suffer from asthma that has been diagnosed by a physician and at least as many children may have asthma-like symptoms. In many cases, asthma symptoms begin before the age of seven.

In connection with viral infections, small children may also suffer from mucosity and swelling of the airways that cause breathing difficulties without this necessarily constituting an asthma symptom.

Typical asthma symptoms include shortness of breath or wheezing, and difficulties in exhaling in particular. In addition, asthma symptoms may include a prolonged or recurring cough and nocturnal cough as well as coughing or breathing difficulties related to exertion, lowered performance, coughing or respiratory symptoms caused by allergen exposure and, in small children, possibly also increased respiratory rate and abnormally profuse mucousness and stertor. In the case of symptoms such as these, patients should seek a physician who will then refer them for asthma clarifications at the pediatric outpatient clinic, if necessary.

If a child’s breathing suddenly becomes difficult, is laborious and/or wheezy, you should seek emergency medical attention.

Respiratory tract infections, physical exertion, cold air and exposure to allergens or various stimuli (cigarette smoke being the most notable) are all factors that may trigger asthma symptoms. Symptoms may become worse during the night in particular.

Pediatric asthma examinations include allergy tests, chest X-ray and respiratory function tests, and (running) exercise tests for school-aged children.

In most cases, the asthma diagnosis of small children or under three-year-olds is based on recurrent breathing difficulties which have required emergency care. In the case of very small children, the possibility of structural causes underlying the breathing difficulties may sometimes have to be clarified with an endoscopic examination.

Once an asthma diagnosis has been reached, regular medication is begun. All pediatric asthma patients must have a breathable bronchodilator that is used when necessary and a therapeutic asthma medication that is either in breathable form (an inhaled steroid) or taken orally (generally montelukast).

In many cases, small children suffering from infection symptomatic asthma recover within a few years, whereas the symptoms of a child suffering from allergy symptomatic asthma generally continue longer and the need for treatment continues.

The treatment of asthma aims for the child to have as normal a life as possible with good performance, respiratory function, growth and development using as small but adequate a dose of medication as possible.