Childhood Asthma

by the Family Education and Resource Program at Children's Hospital Boston

If your child has asthma, you are not alone. Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting approximately 5 million children.

What is asthma?

What happens during an asthma attack?

What are the symptoms of asthma?
Common asthma symptoms are:

Some early clues that asthma may be developing are:

Each child's symptoms are different. The early warning signs of asthma are important to learn about and watch for, so you can be aware that an asthma episode may be developing and seek medical care if necessary.

When is asthma an emergency?
Severe asthma symptoms require immediate attention and can be a life threatening emergency. If you see them in your child, seek emergency treatment immediately. Some examples of severe symptoms are:

How can you help control your child's asthma?
Asthma is not the same in every person. For some, symptoms are mild, while for others they can be very serious. There is no cure for asthma, but symptoms almost always can be controlled and your child can lead a normal, active life.

Things you can do to best control your child's asthma:

What is an asthma trigger?
There are two types of triggers that may make your child's asthma worse: irritants and allergies.

What is an irritant?
Irritants are substances that bother the nose, throat, or airways. Common irritants include:

What is an allergy?
Some common allergies include:

How do allergies affect asthma?
Many children with asthma have allergies, which can make their asthma worse. In children with allergies, the immune system becomes sensitive to things called allergens. Exposure to these allergens increases inflammation (swelling) in the airways, and can cause asthma symptoms. Ongoing inflammation of the airways causes the airways to be more sensitive to triggers.

If you suspect that your child has allergies, talk to your child's doctor or nurse about a referral to see an allergy specialist. A specialist can tell you exactly what your child is allergic to so that you can know what things your child should avoid.

With careful management by parents, doctors and the child, asthma symptoms can be controlled so that children with asthma can lead normal, active and healthy lives.

Children's Hospital Boston is the nation's leading pediatric medical center, the largest provider of health care to Massachusetts children, and the primary pediatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. In addition to 347 pediatric and adolescent inpatient beds and comprehensive outpatient programs, Children's houses the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries benefit both children and adults.
For more information about Children's Hospital Boston, please visit our website at:


Herb's Tips and More

  • Herbs Safety Never take any herb identity for granted. The best way to be sure that you are using the right kind of herb is by buying it.

    Continue Reading »

  • herbs Did you know that you can make soap, candles and lotion with your herbs?

    Continue Reading »

  • Herbs Safety Never take any herb identity for granted. The best way to be sure that you are using the right kind of herb is by buying it.

    Continue Reading »


herbs in a pot