RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- Asthma is one of the most common chronic disorders in childhood: it affects an estimated 7.1 million children under 18 years, according to the American Lung Association, and it is the third leading cause of hospitalization among children under the age of 15.
Although asthma is a serious and chronic disease, it can be managed with proper treatment so children with asthma can lead active, normal lives.
“Unfortunately, asthma is often misdiagnosed and, as a result, goes untreated,” says Dr. Steven Kanengiser, Director, Pediatric Pulmonology, Valley Medical Group. “But by learning more about the symptoms of asthma and working with your child's doctor, you can help ensure that your child gets help if he or she needs it.”
Asthma often surfaces in very young children and even babies: up to 80 percent of children with asthma develop symptoms before age 5. That makes it especially important for parents to be aware of the signs of asthma. A child does not have to wheeze to have asthma. Instead, he or she may only experience a frequent and annoying cough, especially at night or when exercising, playing or laughing.
Symptoms of asthma also include:
- Your child complains of chest tightness or shortness of breath.
- Colds go right to your child's chest and last much longer than for other siblings.
- Your child has less stamina during play than other children.
- Your child misses school or avoids physical activity.
- Your family has a history of asthma or allergies.
If you suspect your child has asthma, keep track of details that can be shared with your pediatrician, such as possible triggers (for example, certain allergens, colds or respiratory infections, exercise or cold weather), and the frequency and severity of symptoms. Sharing these observations with a physician can help everyone work together to alleviate asthma symptoms.You may want to ask your pediatrician if your child would benefit from seeing a pediatric pulmonologist.
Children with asthma need the help of their parents, teachers and health care professionals to reduce inflammation and narrowing in their airways and keep the disease under control. Managing asthma typically includes ensuring that medications are used correctly, reducing exposure to allergens and other triggers and encouraging appropriate physical activity.
Valley’s Pediatric Pulmonology Service is located in The Valley Hospital Kireker Center for Child Development at 505 Goffle Road in Ridgewood.
To make an appointment, please call 201- 447-8026.