What are the nonspecific symptoms of pediatric asthma?

Updated: Jan 08, 2019
  • Author: Girish D Sharma, MD, FCCP, FAAP; Chief Editor: Kenan Haver, MD  more...
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Infants or young children may have a history of recurrent bronchitis, bronchiolitis, or pneumonia; a persistent cough with colds; and/or recurrent croup or chest rattling. Most children with chronic or recurrent bronchitis have asthma. Asthma is the most common underlying diagnosis in children with recurrent pneumonia. Older children may have a history of chest tightness and/or recurrent chest congestion.

In an acute episode, symptoms vary according to the severity of the episode. During a mild episode, patients may be breathless after physical activity such as walking. They can talk in sentences and lie down, and they may be agitated. During a moderate-to-severe episode, patients are breathless while talking. Infants have feeding difficulties and a softer, shorter cry.

During a severe episode, patients are breathless during rest, are not interested in feeding, sit upright, talk in words (not sentences), and are usually agitated. With imminent respiratory arrest (in addition to the aforementioned symptoms), the child is drowsy and confused. However, adolescents may not have these symptoms until they are in frank respiratory failure.

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