Asthma—Child

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Definition

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the function and lining of the airways or tubes of the lungs. It narrows the airways and makes it difficult to breathe.There are different degrees of asthma. Some children may have mild asthma with rare flare-ups. Others may have a severe, constant asthma.
Inflamed Bronchial Tube
Inflammed Lung and asthma
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Causes

Tightening of the muscles around the airway and chronic inflammation cause airways to narrow. This makes it hard to breathe.The exact causes of asthma are unknown, but genetics play a role.Certain conditions are known to trigger an asthma attack. These include:
  • Respiratory infection—more common in younger children
  • Exercise, especially in cold air—more common in teenagers
  • Substances that cause allergies include:
    • Pollen
    • Dust
    • Animal dander
    • Mold
    • Food, rarely
  • Sinus infections
  • Tobacco smoke or other chemical irritants
  • Sudden change in weather

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your child’s chance of asthma include:
  • Family history
  • History of allergies and/or eczema
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke
  • Respiratory infections before age one and common colds before six months of age
  • Premature birth
  • Chlorinated pool use in children who are already at risk for asthma
  • Taking medications such as acetaminophen

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