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Asthma is a disease of obstruction, which means it is hard to get air out.  So if your asthma is being triggered, with every breath, a small amount of air is being left behind.  This leads to increased pressure in your lungs, which is why the #1 symptom of asthma in childhood is a dry, barky, or raspy COUGH —coughing helps you get air out. Red flags for asthma are coughing late at night or early in the morning, coughing with activity, or coughing with laughing or crying.  If your child is doing any of these things with any regularity, it could indicate poorly controlled asthma.

Asthma has 2 parts:

CONSTRICTION (the airway gets tight) and INFLAMMATION (the airway gets thick).

Albuterol is a bronchodilator which helps open you up when you are having trouble breathing. Preventer or controller medications are anti-inflammatories, so they decrease inflammation and therefore, help prevent the asthma from flaring up in the first place.

Although no one wants to take medicine regularly, it is far healthier (and safer) to use a small amount of medicine every day, than to have out of control asthma and use the stronger medicines that are needed during asthma flare ups.

According to the national asthma guidelines, you may have poorly controlled asthma and should make an appointment for evaluation if you have:

  • A late night/early am cough 2+ nights/month

  • A need for Albuterol 2+/week on average (For more information on Albuterol, visit our “How to Use Your Albuterol Inhaler” page)

  • Symptoms during the day (with activity/laughing/crying/randomly) 2+/week

  • More than one significant attack/year (requiring oral steroids, like Orapred ODT®)

Triggers for asthma include:

  • Illness is the #1 trigger of early childhood asthma

  • Allergies (indoor/outdoor/pets/foods) (Children do not usually develop environmental allergies until at least age 2)

  • Exercise

  • Cold weather and weather changes

  • Strong laughing/crying

If your child is only triggered by illness, and there is not a strong family history of atopy – which includes asthma, allergies, and eczema, then they are in the category of children more likely to outgrow early childhood wheezing.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you suspect your child is exhibiting symptoms of asthma. Be sure to write down your child’s symptoms ahead of time and be ready to answer related questions, such as whether symptoms are worse at a certain time of day. Bring a list of your child’s medications, recent and any major illnesses (if not on file with your doctor), and any questions you have.


Asthma is the condition of inflamed and constricted airways, leading potentially to a range of respiratory complications. The airways swell up and produce large amounts of thick mucus. The inflamed airways are very sensitive, and can be affected by a number of substances which can cause the smooth muscle around them to tighten up.

Pay close attention to what your child is breathing both inside and outside the home. Common triggers include allergens such as pet dander, pollen, mold and dust, but also weather changes, viral infections, and exposure to harsh environmental factors like air pollution and secondhand smoke.

It’s important to be vigilant if you suspect your child may be at risk for or developing asthma. Pay attention to your child’s breathing. A majority of parents think that if they don’t hear wheezing, there no cause for concern. Sometimes a mild cough can indicate asthma. Watch carefully for frequent coughing, especially at night, or with playing, laughing or crying, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest congestion, tightness, or pain or delayed recovery from other respiratory illnesses (e.g., bronchitis).

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