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Does your child have asthma?

If your child has asthma symptoms, a doctor's visit is a must. You can help ensure an accurate diagnosis by learning a little before you go.

Coughing fits after exercise, after crying or in the middle of the night. Wheezing, whistling and shortness of breath. Tightness in the chest. If these are usual occurrences for your child, it's time to find out if he or she has asthma.

With a few questions and a simple, painless test, your child's doctor will probably be able to recognize or rule out this chronic lung disease. If it is asthma, treatment can usually keep symptoms under control.

Knowing what to expect from this first visit to the doctor can help you prepare yourself and your child and help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

Prepare for questions

The doctor visit may start with a conversation about your child's risk factors for asthma and the symptoms he or she has shown. Be ready to talk about:

  • A family history of allergies or asthma.
  • Your child's symptoms, including when you first noticed them, when they show up, what makes them worse and any patterns they may follow.
  • How frequent and severe the symptoms are and if they interfere with daily activities, physical activity, sleep or school performance.

Expect tests

After asking about your child's symptoms and health, the doctor will probably listen to your child's lungs.

A spirometer may be used to measure your child's lung capacity. This machine has a hose that your child blows into before and after inhaling medicine. It measures the airflow from your child's lungs. The doctor will compare the results to average readings for your child's age group.

The doctor may also check your child for signs of allergies, such as skin rashes, swollen nasal passages and nasal discharge, or perform allergy skin or blood tests.

Many children with asthma also have allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Allergic reactions can make asthma symptoms much worse.

Join the treatment team

If these tests show that your child has asthma, you and your doctor can work on a treatment plan. This plan will detail the medicines and other measures that will help control your child's symptoms and keep his or her growth and development on track.

With the right treatment most children can live and play symptom-free.

Reviewed 12/1/2022

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