Skip to content

Asthma Health Center

Select An Article

Asthma in Children and Infants

(continued)
Font Size

How Is Asthma Diagnosed in Children?

Asthma in children can often be diagnosed based on medical history, symptoms, and a physical exam. Keep in mind that oftentimes when you take your infant or older child to the doctor with asthma symptoms, the symptoms may be gone by the time the doctor evaluates the child. That's why parents are key in helping the doctor understand the child's signs and symptoms of asthma.

  • Medical history and asthma symptom description: Your child's doctor will be interested in any history of breathing problems you or your child may have had, as well as a family history of asthma, allergies, a skin condition called eczema, or other lung disease. It is important that you describe your child's symptoms -- cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain, or tightness -- in detail, including when and how often these symptoms have been occurring.
  • Physical exam: During the physical exam, the doctor will listen to your child's heart and lungs and look for signs of an allergic nose or eyes.
  • Tests: Many children will also have a chest X-ray and, for those ages 6 and older, a simple lung function test called spirometry. Spirometry measures the amount of air in the lungs and how fast it can be exhaled. The results help the doctor determine how severe the asthma is. Other tests may also be ordered to help identify particular "asthma triggers" for your child's asthma. These tests may include allergy skin testing, blood tests (IgE or RAST), and X-rays to determine if sinus infections or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are complicating asthma. An asthma test that measures the amount of nitric oxide in the breath (eNO) is available in some places.

How Is Asthma Treated in Children?

Avoiding triggers, using medications, and keeping an eye on daily asthma symptoms are the ways to control asthma in children of all ages. Children with asthma should always be kept away from all sources of smoke. Proper use of medication is the basis of good asthma control.

Based on your child's history and the severity of asthma, his or her doctor will develop an Asthma Action Plan and give you a written copy. This plan describes when and how your child should use asthma drugs, what to do when asthma gets worse (falls into the yellow or red zones), and when to seek emergency care for your child. Make sure you understand this plan and ask your child's doctor any questions you may have.

Next Article:

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

Take the WebMD Asthma assessment to get Personalized Action Plan

Start Now

Today on WebMD

Lung and bronchial tube graphic
5 common triggers.
group jogging in park
Should you avoid fitness activities?
 
asthma inhaler
Learn about your options.
man feeling faint
What’s the difference?
 
Madison Wisconsin Capitol
Slideshow
woman wearing cpap mask
Article
 
red wine pouring into glass
Slideshow
Woman holding inhaler
Quiz
 

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Man outdoors coughing
Article
Lung and bronchial tube graphic
Article
 
10 Worst Asthma Cities
Slideshow
runner
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections