The symptoms of asthma in children and adults are very similar, but it's often harder to diagnose in kids, especially infants and toddlers, because of similarities to other illnesses, such as respiratory infections. Children are also more susceptible to allergen exposure, including dust, air pollution and second-hand smoke. Here's how to identify and treat it in both children and adults.
Symptoms of asthma in children and adults:
- Frequent coughing spells that are worse during the night. For children, they often occur during play or laughter, and coughing may be the only symptom present.
- According to the Mayo Clinic, an infant who eats slowly and is short of breath during eating may be showing signs.
- Your child may tire easily and cough during exercise.
- Wheezing and whistling during breathing.
- Tightness in the chest.
If diagnosed after age 20, this ailment is then known as the adult-onset form, and about half of those with it also have allergies. Adult-onset asthma can also result from exposure to substances in the workplace or from the home environment.
Common triggers in children and adults
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here is how to defend against common asthma triggers:
- Dust mites. These tiny bugs hang out in every home and can trigger an attack. Use mattress covers and pillowcase covers to place a barrier between dust mites and yourself. Don't use down-filled pillows, quilts or comforters, and remove stuffed animals and clutter from your bedroom. It's also recommended that you wash bedding on the hottest water setting.
- Cockroach allergens. These insects, along with their droppings, can also trigger an attack, so ban the bugs by removing excess water and food sources. They like to hang out wherever food and crumbs are left behind. Vacuum or sweep areas that may attract cockroaches.
- Mold. It thrives on humidity and is another trigger. Fix water leaks, which might otherwise lead to mold growing under floors and behind walls. An air conditioner or dehumidifier can also help keep the humidity level low. Humidity levels should be 50 percent or lower.
What are the best treatments for you?
There are several factors to consider when looking for the best asthma treatments, including age, symptoms and personal preference. Your doctor may suggest a long-term control medication, which reduce the inflammation in your airways, helping to prevent attacks and keeping them under control. Your doctor may also prescribe quick-relief inhalers, known as bronchodilators, which can rapidly open swollen airways that are limiting breathing.
It's no doubt that this respiratory illness can be a challenge, but with time you'll learn when an attack is about to happen, and which medications can help you head it off at the pass. If you have questions or concerns about this condition, consult your local Atlanta family doctor.