Asthma and Young Children

Could Your Child Have Asthma?

  • Children can develop asthma in the first year of life.
  • Asthma is more common in childrenwhose parents or other children in the family have asthma, allergies or an allergic skin problem such as eczema.
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke in early life causes more asthma, allergies and colds.
  • Symptoms such as cough, trouble breathing or wheezing may be asthma. These symptoms may occur with colds or chest infections. 
  • Colds that do not seem to go away, may be asthma.

How Is Asthma Diagnosed?

  • There is no good test for asthma in young children. This makes asthma hard to diagnose.
  • Asthma is mainly diagnosed based on your child’s history, pattern of symptoms, and your family’s medical history. 
  • Asthma medicines may be given for a trial period to see if your child’s breathing improves. 

If Your Child Has Asthma:

  • Identify your child’s triggers and avoid them when possible.
  • Know about your child’s asthma medicines and how to give them correctly.
  • Regular visits with your doctor are  important to help you control the asthma.
  • Have your doctor complete a written Asthma Action Plan. As soon as you notice asthma problems, check your plan for any changes in treatment.
  • Use an asthma diary or journal to keep track of changes in your child’s asthma.
  • Your doctor may refer you to an asthma specialist for further tests (eg. allergy tests).
  • Learn as much as you can about asthma.  Ask about asthma education in your area. 

What Triggers Your Child's Asthma?

  • A trigger is anything that makes asthma worse. 
  • The most common asthma triggers for children under 3 years of age are colds and tobacco smoke.
  • After a cold, asthma symptoms and swelling in the airways can last for several weeks.
  • Children exposed to tobacco smoke have more colds.
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke makes asthma worse in young children.
  • Allergies to pets, house dust mites and mold become a problem more often in children over 2 years of age.


Signs of Worsening Asthma:

  • Watch for early warning signs of worsening asthma such as:
  • Getting a cold
  • Coughing or wheezing during sleep or upon waking
  • Coughing or wheezing with activity, laughing or crying
  • Decreased energy level
  • Needing Reliever medicine (blue inhaler) more than 3 times a week for symptoms


Early warning signs let you know that problems are starting.


When you see any early warning signs, follow your Asthma Action Plan.