How is asthma tested for in children?

Kid’s doctor in Gastonia NC

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A kid’s doctor will consider the symptoms, their frequency, and your child’s medical history. Your child might need tests to rule out other conditions and to identify the most likely cause of the symptoms.

Doctors diagnose asthma with the same tests used to identify the disease in adults. Spirometry measures how much air your child can exhale and how quickly. Read on to see why your child may be showing signs of asthma.

Asthma diagnosis in a Gastonia pediatric practice

Asthma can be hard to diagnose. Some childhood conditions can have similar symptoms ones caused by asthma. To complicate things, these also frequently occur with asthma. This means your kid’s doctor needs to differentiate the reasons. It can be one, the other or both.

Conditions that can cause asthma-like symptoms include:

  • Wheezing and coughing
  • Acid reflux or GERD
  • Airway irregularities and shortness of breath while playing
  • Bronchiolitis and respiratory tract infections

Gastonia Pediatrics may perform these tests

Doctors will diagnose asthma using tests to identify asthma in adults. Spirometry measures the amount of air a child can exhale and how quick. Children may also have lung function testing while at rest, after exercise and after asthma medication.

Another test for lung function is a challenge test. Using spirometry, this measures how lungs react to specific irritations like exercise and introduction to cold air. If the diagnosis is unclear after these lung function tests. A kid’s doctor may advise measuring nitric oxide levels in a child’s breath. This testing helps determine if steroid medications may help a child.

These tests are inaccurate under the age of five. For children younger, doctor relies on information parents provide about their symptoms. On occasions, diagnosis can’t be made until months or years after. 

Control medication for the long-term

Long-term medications help reduce inflammation in a child’s airways. In most cases, this medication needs to be taken daily.

Types of long-term control medications include:

  • Inhaled corticosteroids. A child may need these medications for several days up to a few weeks before any full benefit is seen. These medications in the long-term are associated with slowed growth rates in children. As the effects are minor, the benefits outweigh the risks of side effects.
  • Leukotriene modifiers. Oral medications help prevent these symptoms up to periods of 24-hours. Combination inhalers. These contain inhaled corticosteroid along with long-acting beta agonist (LABA). In some cases, these long-acting beta agonists are linked to severe attacks. LABA meds always need to be given to children via an inhaler that contains corticosteroids.
  • Theophylline is a daily pill to help keep airways open. This relaxes muscles around the airways so breathing becomes easier. When taking this, blood requires regular checking. Immunomodulatory agents may be appropriate for children aged 12 or over.

How parents help manage asthma in Gastonia NC?

One thing parents can do is to take their children for a check-up to their local Gastonia pediatric clinic. The pediatricians will devise a strategy and a plan for treatment if children show symptoms they may be possible asthma candidates.

Gastonia Pediatric Associates can be contacted at any time 24/7 if any children show sudden onsets of these symptoms. Pediatricians can help parents, but there is an amount of help that must come from more senior members of the child’s family.