4 Categories of Asthma in Children
The difficulty of accurately measuring lung function in children, in addition to asthma symptoms often being brought about by childhood infections, can sometimes make categorizing a challenge. But there are four main types of asthma in children.
Mild Intermittent Asthma
This is characterized by short episodes of coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath that happen no more than twice a week, and is often referred to as the “invisible part of asthma.” In this category, symptoms are rare in between episodes, and preventative medications do not need to be used. Children in this bracket have, at most, maybe one or two night awakenings per month, and experience no hindrance to daily activities. These kids appear normal, and their symptoms are under control.
Mild Persistent Asthma
This is characterized by more than two episodes of coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath per week, but less than once a day. Symptoms happen at least twice a month at night, and may or may not affect normal physical activity.
Moderate Persistent Asthma
This type is characterized by daily episodes of coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath. Symptoms occur at night more than twice a week, and bouts may last for days at a time. Normal physical activity is affected.
Severe Persistent Asthma
Characterized by continuous episodes of coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath, this category includes frequent symptoms at night, and the child may require emergency room visits, or even hospitalization, at times. Physical activity is severely limited.
Other notable symptom patterns for children with asthma are morning “dipping,” when symptoms are worse in the mornings and improve throughout the day; and symptoms beginning with upper respiratory infections that linger for weeks, and resolve themselves in warmer conditions.
“Recurrent wheezing, waking up at night, and shortness of breath can be big problems for young children. It is typically very common for children ages two to three when a cold happens,” said Dr. Robert Strunk, professor of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine.
As mentioned above, it can be difficult to tell if a child has actual asthma due to any infections the child may have. The younger the child, the less likely you are to get a firm diagnosis. It is very common for babies to wheeze for a multitude of reasons, and those reasons may only become clear over time.
The chance of developing any form of asthma is linked to a number of things, including when the wheezing begins. Children less than one year of age have the least likely chance of developing ongoing asthma. Statistics estimate that one in five of these children will go on to have asthmatic symptoms, while children who are less than three years old have a two in five chance; and children over the age of five have a four in five chance. Even still, these statistics do not guarantee the asthma will be severe. It is best to seek professional medical advice to determine if your child has asthma, and to what extent.