Is your baby coughing, wheezing, and having difficulty breathing? He or she could be one of the five million kids in the U.S. who have asthma. While asthma sounds and can be very scary, it’s the most common chronic condition in kids. That means, you have lots of resources, medicine, and support to care for your child. If you suspect your child has asthma, here are six of the most common symptoms to watch out for as well as some pointers about how you can prevent and treat your baby’s asthma.
Asthma Symptoms to Watch Out For
Babies are itty-bitty—this includes their airways. If your baby has asthma, it could become a serious and life-threatening condition rather quickly—even more so than for adults. But what should you watch out for if you’re worried about your baby developing asthma? Here is what the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says could be asthma symptoms. Remember, many respiratory infections can mimic asthma symptoms which could fool you into thinking your child has this chronic condition, so this guide will help you ensure you’re watching out for the right red flags.
1. Rapid and Labored Breathing
If your baby often breathes in shallow, quick inhales and exhales, he/she could have asthma. To determine if your baby is having a hard time breathing, look for flared nostrils and the sucking in and out of cheeks, ribs, and belly. These could be signs that your child is struggling to take in oxygen and breathe it out. Consult your doctor immediately if you notice these asthma symptoms.
If your baby does have asthma, it’s essential for you to make sure your home has proper ventilation to help circulate clean air. To help clear airborne contaminants and improve air circulation, consider placing an air purifier in your baby’s room.
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2. Problems Nursing or Eating
Babies who have asthma often have difficulty eating and nursing because they are only able to draw air in and out of their noses. If your baby is fussy while nursing or feeding, often breaks away from the bottle or nipple, and seems to gasp for air in between swallowing, it could be asthma.
3. Chronic Coughing
Asthma causes inflammation in your airways, making you cough. Look out for a chronic dry cough as a telltale symptom of asthma. However, don’t fly off the handles with worry immediately; dry coughs could also be a sign of allergies.
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4. Blue Pallor
If your baby isn’t getting enough oxygen because of constricted airways, he or she could have a slight blue tint to his/her complexion, lips, and fingernails. Watch out for blue or pale skin tones that alert you your baby is having a hard time breathing in enough oxygen.
5. Long Recovery Period
If your baby or toddler is huffing and puffing after running around, he/she could very well have asthma. Kids have tons of energy, so if your child seems to have a long recovery period after exertion you might have an asthma diagnosis on your hands.
Is your baby often lethargic? This could be a warning sign of asthma. When your baby isn’t getting enough oxygen, he/she will be a lot less active. Stay vigilant so you can observe if your child is tired and sluggish compared to previous activity levels.
Ways To Treat and Prevent Asthma in Babies and Young Children
It is currently unknown if you may completely prevent asthma in children. However, some studies have linked certain exposures, infections, and more to asthma in kids. Read on to learn how you can better your child’s chances of avoiding asthma—in addition to things you can do to make your child’s breathing easier if he/she does develop this chronic condition.
1. Determine Allergies and Reduce Exposure
Researchers have found a big correlation between allergies and asthma — about 60 percent of people with asthma also have allergies like hay fever. Babies who suffer food and skin allergies have also been found to have higher rates of asthma. So what can you do about it? Cut down on irritants in the air in your baby’s nursery and your home that may cause or exacerbate asthma.
Here are a few ways to do this:
- You can change your home’s HVAC air filters every six weeks to ensure the airflow in your home is healthy.
- You can also make sure to vacuum, dust, and mop thoroughly every month.
- Although, the easiest way to ensure your baby is breathing allergen and irritant-free air is by purchasing an air purifier for your baby’s bedroom. Some air purifiers also double as a pink noise producing device—helping your baby sleep through the night.
2. Don’t Ever Smoke Near Your Baby
Second-hand smoke is dangerous for all people—especially babies. And since now you know that allergens (including cigarette smoke) can increase the risk of your child developing asthma, you should do everything in your power to prevent your baby from being exposed to smoke. Kids who live with smokers have worse asthma flare-ups, more emergency room visits, and more instances of missing school because of asthma. Keep your kids away from smoke and your home smoke-free for alleviated asthma symptoms.
3. Get a Dog
One interesting study found that babies who live with dogs before turning one-year old had 13 percent less of a chance of developing asthma. It was also found that preschool aged kids who lived on a farm with lots of animals had 31 percent less of a chance of developing asthma. If you don’t mind furry family members, consider bringing a few home to keep your child’s immune system operating at its highest level.
Lots of research has been done surrounding the benefits of breastfeeding. One interesting study by the European Lung Foundation reported that breastfeeding your baby for the first six months of his/her life may reduce asthma symptoms in their first years of life. Of course, every nursing situation and birth is different. If you cannot breastfeed, don’t worry! There are plenty of other ways to keep your baby healthy and try to prevent and treat asthma.
25 million people (eight percent of the world’s population) have asthma, so your baby is not alone. Just do your homework to determine if your baby has asthma so you can do everything in your power to keep him/her healthy, safe, and happy.