Infant asthma is a type of asthma which appears during infancy. It is also possible for people to develop asthma in childhood or later in life. It can be difficult to diagnose asthma in babies because the symptoms are usually very subtle and the baby cannot communicate about how she or he feels, which can make it challenging to notice that something is wrong. This condition is very manageable, and around 50% of children with asthma grow out of it as they age.
In babies, asthma is very risky for several reasons. The lungs have not fully finished developing, and asthma can lay the groundwork for later health problems, and the bronchial tubes are much smaller, which means that the airway can be more easily obstructed. Asthma can also be linked with things like eczema, which cause discomfort and distress which may make a baby unhappy.
In order to diagnose infant asthma, the symptoms usually need to have persisted for several months. Some key symptoms include wheezing, rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, unusual displacement of the chest when breathing which suggests that the baby is fighting for breath, a soft cry, and bluing of the lips and nails. The baby may also cough frequently or be restless. Commonly, infant asthma symptoms are more noticeable during sleep.
A pediatrician can treat asthma symptoms like wheezing even if a diagnosis of asthma cannot be firmly pinned down. If a pediatrician's review of the patient's history with caregivers suggests that the baby does indeed have asthma, there are a number of infant asthma treatments. These include modifying the environment to address concerns about allergies and giving medications, which may be offered in the form of oral liquids or inhaled medications. A nebulizer can be used to deliver medication to a baby who cannot use an inhaler.
Part of infant asthma treatment includes the development of an asthma action plan. Caregivers use the plan to evaluate the severity of asthma symptoms to determine which kinds of interventions might be needed, ranging from following a prescribed medication timetable to calling emergency services for a baby who is having extreme difficulty breathing. With well managed asthma, simply sticking to the medication regimen may be enough. If the asthma is not well managed, the baby may need emergency medications or attention at a hospital. Some cases of asthma are difficult to manage effectively and parents should not feel as though they have failed in some way if their infant asthma action plan requires periodic adjustments and modifications to address changing symptoms.