Asthma Child


Make an Appointment for Asthma


The exact causes of asthma are unknown, but genetics play a role.

Things that are known to trigger an asthma attack are:

  • Respiratory infection like colds or flus—more common in younger children
  • Exercise, especially in cold air—more common in teenagers
  • Common allergies such as:
    • Pollen
    • Dust
    • Animal dander
    • Mold
    • Food—this is rare
  • Sinus infections
  • Tobacco smoke or other chemical irritants
  • Sudden change in weather

Risk Factors

Things that may raise a child’s chance of asthma include:

  • Family history
  • History of allergies and/or eczema
  • Being around tobacco smoke
  • Respiratory infections before 1 year of age, especially bronchiolitis, and common colds before age 6 months
  • Premature birth
  • Chlorinated pool use in children who are already at risk for asthma
  • Taking some medicines, such as aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID)



An asthma attack can cause:

  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath and fast breathing
  • Coughing, wheezing, and trouble breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty during feeding in infants
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Not wanting to exercise or play sports


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will listen to the lungs. A specialist who focuses on the lungs may need to be seen.

Children may be tested for common allergens that may trigger symptoms. This can be done with skin testing or blood tests.

The lungs may be tested with:

  • Spirometry test—blowing in a tube to measure the amount of air that is moved
  • Challenge test—measures breath after being around a medicine or allergen



The doctor will create an asthma action plan. This is a plan to help control asthma, handle asthma attacks, and prevent limits to a child's play. Treatment will vary based on age, symptoms, and how often asthma attacks happen. The treatment plan should help decrease the number of attacks or stop attacks from happening.

Treatment options include:


Medicine used to treat asthma may be long-term or short-term.

Long-term medicine will help prevent asthma attacks. They cannot treat an attack itself. One or more may be used:

  • Inhaled corticosteroids—to prevent airway swelling
  • Inhaled long-acting beta agonists—to relax the airways
  • Oral leukotriene modifiers—to prevent airway swelling, decrease the amount of mucus in the lungs, and open the airways
  • Oral theophylline—to relax the airways

Short-term control medicine is used to treat an asthma attack. It may include:

  • Inhaled quick-acting beta agonists and anticholinergic agents—to open the airways fast
  • Oral corticosteroids—to reduce severe airway swelling

Avoiding Triggers

Exercise may help the lungs work better. Treatment should let a child be as active as other kids and play sports if they want.

Changes or things in the air can trigger an asthma attack. The exact triggers may be different from person to person. Some helpful steps include:

  • Have allergy tests to better understand triggers. Common problems include pollen, dust, and air pollution.
  • Avoid outside time if there are high levels of air pollution, pollen, or mold spores.
  • Keep windows closed during seasons with high pollen or mold spores. Air conditioning may help clear allergens from indoor air.
  • An air cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter may help clear indoor air. It can be most helpful in sleeping areas, heating/cooling system, and vacuum cleaner.
  • Avoid being around tobacco smoke.
  • Check for and control mold growth in the house.
  • Get vaccines to protect against airway infections. Children older than 6 months should get a yearly flu shot.
  • Allergy shots may help reduce reactions to allergy triggers.


Asthma cannot be prevented.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.