How do I know if my child has asthma?

September 20, 2019

This article was reviewed by our Baystate Health team to ensure medical accuracy.

Nico W. Vehse, MD Nico W. Vehse, MD View Profile
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Coughs, chest congestion, sleepless nights due to sickness—all of these are pretty common symptoms for school-aged kids, particularly during our fall and winter months. But these are also signs of childhood asthma. As a parent, when should you worry?

Dr. Nico Vehse, of Baystate Pediatric Pulmonology, explains that kids with asthma tend to complain that their chest feels heavy or tight. They’ll feel short of breath or very tired. You might hear wheezing or whistling when they breath out. Asthma also causes constant coughing, often linked to exercise.


Make an appointment with the doctor if you think your child has asthma. At Baystate, our pediatric lung specialists will test your child’s breathing using pulmonary function tests. They will also talk to you about your child’s symptoms and medical history.

If your child is diagnosed with asthma, rest assured that asthma can be successfully controlled. With the right preventive care and a complete asthma action plan, kids with asthma can still enjoy sports and outdoor activities.

“Beyond taking medication properly, there are also many things that parents can do at home to ease their child’s asthma symptoms,” Dr. Vehse said. “Keeping cigarette smoke out of the home, avoiding what you are allergic to, and using a dehumidifier in damp rooms are a few examples.”


Get medical help immediately if your child:

  • Is struggling to breathe
  • Is unable to talk or eat
  • Appears to use his or her stomach muscles to breathe
  • Medications that open up your airways don’t seem to help for more than 4 hours

Learn more about asthma care

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