Asthma In Toddlers and Children| Recognizing Symptoms and Treatment

Asthma is a very frightening condition for anyone that has ever had to experience it, especially children. The experience can be even more scary for toddlers and anyone under the age of 5. My daughter’s first terrorizing experience with an asthma attack happened when she was only 4 years old and resulted with hospitalization and later a diagnosis of asthma. As a parent I discovered her triggers, how to manager her symptoms, and immediately educated her on how to treat herself. The road was filled with many missed days of schools, hospital visits, and moments of fears, but we managed her condition and we understood her triggers and symptoms like the back of my hand.

I never imaged my next child would develop the same condition. My son had his first experience with terrible wheezing at 4 months old and was given a nebulizer machine, steroids  and an inhaler. He took to his treatment well and we hadn’t experienced any more alarming episodes since.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago and the wheezing returned. If you are a parent of a child with asthma, you know that it can be triggered at any moment, the key is to understanding their symptoms. The issue with having a toddler is that doctors are reluctant to diagnose children under the age of 5. The tests that are generally used to diagnose a child under the age of 5 are used to gauge the how well a person is breathing and that cannot be easily or accurately obtained in such small children. In this case diagnosing, recognizing and managing asthma in children under the age of 5 can be extremely difficult, therefore learning to recognize symptoms and triggers are essential.  I am hoping my experience can help shed some light.

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Asthma Experience with My Toddler Son

Common triggers of asthma can be colds, allergies, change in weather, and exercise. One of the common symptoms can be coughing and wheezing, however  depending on your child there are other less noticeable signs that could linger around for days before an onset begins.

As I mentioned earlier my son has been very stable, therefore his symptoms almost went unnoticed, however looking back they were definitely there. Below are a few common signs that he displayed:

  • coughing
  • frequent cold (congestion)
  • puffy eyes (active allergies)
  • runny, stuffy nose (active allergies)

The above symptoms bother him for 2 days and I called the nurse and explained that he was experiencing allergies and asked if I should give him Zyretek because Benadryl was not working well for him. They said yes. Later that evening he began wheezing. I did what I know how to do. I steamed up the bathroom to clear his lungs and I gave him his inhaler and it calmed down. However overnight things did not improve and we were in the ER the next day.

The change in weather had triggered an episode of wheezing and chest tightening. The ER immediately gave him steroids and treatments. We stayed at the hospital for the morning and were later released with medication for 5 days. I have been monitor him every day and paying close attention to what could trigger another episode.

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For the first week following the episode he could not play around without getting out of breath. I After finishing his treatment his breathing returned to normal and I notice he is no longer experiencing anymore coughing or congestion in his nose, however the weather has been much cooler here.

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Allergies and asthma are extremely serious in kids and especially small children. Toddlers can have a difficult time explaining that they are having trouble breathing, therefore it is extremely important to pay close attention to their behavior. If your child is experiencing a combination of the above symptoms call your physician or seek medical attention immediately. Treatment options may include avoiding the things that trigger your child’s  symptoms, maintenance medications, a hospital visit and or stay until the episode is resolved. I goal is to get your child active, healthy and smiling again!

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14 Comments

  1. Reply

    I can imagine this can be a terrifying situation. Neither of my sons had allergies or asthma, but my oldest had other breathing issues which required frequent use of a nebulizer, steamy bathrooms, and frequent trips to the ER. He wasn’t as tolerant with the breathing apparatus as your son appears to be.

    • Reply

      Yes, it is awful. He had an issue with the breathing apparatus and taking his inhaler initially. Once we got home and were on the round clock treatments I started setting a timer with my phone and showing him a count down, this helped him understand it would eventually have an ending point. I also would let him touch and feel the mask so that he could know that it was safe and nothing to be afraid of. After a few treatments he began to feel like a big boy and was very proud of himself when he made it through the end. Just this past holiday weekend we had to use the inhaler again because it was so humid. He explained to us his chest felt like “broccoli” and his tummy didn’t feel good, so we knew something was wrong. It is hard with toddlers but communication and visual triggers are key.

  2. Reply

    My brother had a few asthma attacks as a baby and spent somw time in the hospital NICU and PICU. He s 25 now and hasn’t had any sign of it since Kindergarten

    • Reply

      That is great. I am hoping for that with our kids. My daughter does better and better each year. She is 13 now and has a few episodes here and there but nothing major. She dances and plays with sports with little problems.

  3. Reply

    Breathing problems in children can be so very scary! My second born gets severe croup every time the season changes. Late night trips to ER can be exhausting and scary.

    • Reply

      Very scary for both the parent and the child. I think my teenager was more freaked out than me because she understands what it feels like. Poor kids.

  4. Reply

    Awww. Thankfully, none of our kids (4) have asthma or yet anyway. But, I do know a friend who’s 4 year old has it and does home breathing treatments.

  5. loisaltermark

    Reply

    It’s great that you’re raising awareness so parents won’t freak out if their child experiences these symptoms. It’s so scary when your child is suffering in any way.

    • Reply

      It so weird because no one else in the immediate family has it.My first experience with was a friend of mine when were in high school. She had it severely and would miss weeks at a time from been hospitalized. As an adult she is doing much better, she is blessed that her child didn’t get it.

  6. Catherine Sargent

    Reply

    Thanks for sharing and helping to bring awareness. All three of us girls have asthma and I can’t imagine how scary that was for our mom when we had a bad episode. Thankfully my son doesn’t have it.

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