Asthma is a chronic chest disease marked by difficulty in breathing. It is a condition where over-reactive airways narrow down and restrict airflow because of the mucus which narrows down the path of air or when there is swelling in the cells or when the muscle walls contract. In babies it’s harder to tell because their airways are already very small. Generally repeated coughing, wheezing, tightness of chest or shortness of breath and fast breaths, are commonly found symptoms. And they get worse during viral infections, when exposed to pollution or smoke, while laughing or crying, weather changes, and while exercising. These symptoms worsen at night.
Wheezing may not be found in every child suffering from asthma and it’s not very common in the first two months. Also in the first three years of a child’s life, wheezing is mostly due to viral respiratory infections. As a child’s airways are very small so more mucus accumulates. The walls are very thin. So it may lead to more coughing, wheezing, tightness of chest or shortness of breath or fast breaths. Earlier it was difficult to tell which child will have lifelong asthma but now it’s possible due to Asthma Predictive Index.
Asthma in babies should not be taken lightly because it can even cause lung failure. Few signs and symptoms of asthma in babies are:
- If there is an increase in the breathing rate (more than 40 breaths per minute).
- When the child refuses feed.
- Increase in the size of the chest.
- When the baby’s skin colour changes to red or when its nails turn blue.
- When the cries become short.
- Wide opened nostrils.
- If the baby grunts while feeding.
- If there is a family history of asthma.
- Continuous re-occurrence of respiratory infections.
- If the child is not active while playing.
- Under-eye dark circles.
- Loss of appetite.
- Increased headaches.
- Coughing while crying or laughing.
- Chest pain or retraction in the chest.
If any of the above symptoms are observed then avoid giving too much liquid to your child. Also avoid exposure to moist air, and consult a doctor. Wheezing is not only a sign of asthma but also other diseases and infections such as Bronchiolitis, respiratory virus, larynx or trachea infection, cystic fibrosis, milk aspiration, heart problems, lungs development problems or even the presence of some foreign body in the airway.
Consult your doctor for asthma related issues if:
- There is a family history of asthma or any other disease such as eczema.
- The baby is premature.
- The baby is exposed to smoke from cigarettes.
It will be difficult to if the baby is suffering from asthma until s/he is seven years old because his/her lungs will be fully developed only by then.
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