Could My Child Have Asthma?

What Makes It Worse?

Can my child with asthma play with kids who have colds?

Colds can exacerbate asthma. "It's best to keep young children with asthma away from people who are sick," Tolomeo advises. "Wash their hands frequently, and ask your healthcare provider about receiving the flu vaccine."

A recent CDC study showed the flu vaccine reduces asthma flare-ups in children 6 and younger by up to 41 percent -- and that vaccinating all children with asthma could prevent as many as three-quarters of asthma-related trips to emergency rooms and hospitalizations during flu season.

Our 2-year-old daughter was just diagnosed with asthma, and my husband wants to get rid of our dog. Do we really need to find Rex a new home?

Only if Rex is a trigger for your daughter's asthma. "If you know that your child is not allergic to pets, you don't need to remove the pet," says Dr. Chiu. "An allergist can help you to pinpoint your child's specific asthma triggers," she adds.

Viruses are the most common trigger in infants, because they have typically had limited exposure to allergens. But as babies get older and become more mobile, many allergens become more common:

  • pet dander
  • dust mites
  • mold
  • cockroach droppings
  • foods
  • pollens

Once you know the culprits, talk to your pediatrician or allergist about ways to minimize your child's exposure. If dust mites are the offenders, for example, your doctor may recommend special dust-mite-proof bedding, a dehumidifier, or a special air filter to remove dust mite particles from the air.

My 4-year-old son was just diagnosed with asthma. Should I limit his activity?

With proper treatment, your son's asthma shouldn't limit his physical activity. In fact, as long as the asthma is well controlled, you should encourage him to exercise to strengthen his lungs.

"The medications available today are effective, safe, and well tolerated by most children, so kids really should be able to do anything they want to," assures Dr. Chiu, adding that there are Olympic athletes with asthma.

Cold, dry air can trigger symptoms, so if your child's asthma is serious, you may want to steer him toward swimming rather than ice hockey. But if he insists on lacing up the skates, the proper medications should allow him to do even that, says Dr. Chiu.

If exercise triggers asthma symptoms in your child, you can use a bronchodilator preventively, adds Dr. Chiu. Giving your child a dose 15 minutes before his gymnastics class or playgroup (if things tend to get wild) can help ward off a flare-up, allowing your child to take full part in the fun and lead a normal life.

Marguerite Lamb is a mother of two in Glastonbury, Connecticut.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, April 2005. Updated 2010

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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