Most people think of wheezing and difficulty breathing when they think of asthma. But asthma symptoms aren’t always obvious. Coughing that lasts for days or weeks is often the first sign of asthma.
The most common signs and symptoms of asthma include:
Shortness of Breath– Feeling like you can’t get enough air is a classic symptom of asthma. Most children with asthma do not feel short of breath all the time; struggling to breathe may be a “sometimes” event.
Chest Tightness– Many children with asthma report feeling chest tightness, especially during cold weather or exercise. Chest tightness is often the first sign of an asthma attack.
Wheezing can range from hard-to-notice to hard-to-miss. You might hear your child wheezing during daily life, or only at certain times, such as when exercising, when sick, or when exposed to certain triggers. Many children wheeze more at night.
A cough that occurs frequently, especially in the absence of cold symptoms, may be a sign of asthma. A child who coughs often but doesn’t have a runny nose or congestion may have asthma. Coughing at night or during or after exercise can also be a sign of asthma.
Your child does not have to have all of these symptoms to have asthma. If your child has one (or more) of these symptoms on a regular basis, contact their health-care provider, who may be a doctor, nurse or physician assistant.
How Asthma Affects Children
- 1 in 11 Children has asthma in the U.S.
- In children, boys are more likely to develop asthma than girls
- More than half (59%) of children who had an asthma attack missed school or work because of asthma in 2008, and is the number 1 reason kids miss school
- Providing educators with information on how to care for students with asthma can help monitor students with asthma to prevent serious asthma flares
Resources for Parents
The CHEST Foundation and Allergy and Asthma Network, in partnership with the American College of Allergy, Asthma; Immunology (ACAAI), have developed the first iteration of a shared decision-making tool for adults with severe asthma.
Severe or difficult to control asthma can be life threatening and requires active self management, monitoring, often a team of experts to treat and manage.
Open, clear communication with your healthcare provider is key to controlling you asthma symptoms.
Read about some of the economic and social factors that contribute to asthma prevalence.
Learn more about the triggers that can affect your asthma, and how best to minimize their impact on your life.
Be prepared for your child’s back to school visit with this checklist.
Indoor Air Quality (PDF)
Asthma symptoms can be controlled by improving your indoor air quality.
Quick Facts (PDF)
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing. Interested in learning more about the condition? Check out these quick facts on asthma.
Myths Busted (PDF)
“Children can outgrow asthma.” “People with asthma shouldn’t exercise.” “I need to move to a dry climate to cure my asthma.” Fact or fiction? Find out by reading our busted myths.
Children’s Fact Sheet (PDF)
As important as it is for parents to be informed of their child’s condition, it’s also essential for asthma management that your child is aware of his or her condition. Download this Children’s Fact Sheet for your child to keep on hand, and learn about his or her condition.
To learn more, visit the CHEST Foundation at chestfoundation.org/asthma.