SURPRISING FACT #2
Your child could have asthma even if he doesn't wheeze.
Instead of writing off an ongoing or recurring cough as a persistent cold or a sign of allergies, take your child to a doctor. Sometimes kids have what's known as cough-variant asthma, meaning they may have a dry cough when they lie down, when they're active, or when they go out into cold weather. Recurrent bronchitis can also be a sign of underlying asthma. Coughing is a symptom of asthma, but other things can cause a cough so an accurate diagnosis is key, explains Parents advisor William E. Berger, M.D., an allergy and asthma specialist in Mission Viejo, California, and author of Asthma for Dummies. To do this in kids ages 5 and up, doctors may administer a test (called spirometry) to measure the volume of air a child can exhale forcefully into a tube. They'll listen for wheezing, which means the airways are narrowing, or coughing and shortness of breath, which comes from the muscles in the airways tightening and from the lining swelling.