Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Editorial Board: Dr.Kamini Silvarajan MD/AAAM

Infant Asthma Symptoms

Generally,asthma is very common, but how can you tell if your baby has infant asthma when he/she can’t even talk yet? Most of the children with asthma develop symptoms before the age of six, and many begin wheezing before one year. It is essential to diagnose infant asthma because if left untreated, inflammation can cause permanent damage to the lungs.

Importantly,diagnosing infant asthma is very difficult, because infant asthma symptoms can be so delicate or precise as to would be difficult to analyze that you might not suspect it. Because your infant can’t describe for you or your doctor how he/she is feeling, mainly your doctor relies on your description of the symptoms as well as how your baby acts. Additionally, your doctor will also consider a family history of asthma or allergies in deciding whether your baby has infant asthma.

Symptoms of Infant Asthma

  1. Wheezing
  2. Chest tightness
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Cough
Has your child wheezed more than once? Many infants will experience some wheezing or other after an upper respiratory tract infection. However, if your infant does this very often, it increases the chances of your child has infant asthma. 
Does your child cough at night? Nighttime cough is mostly used as one of the symptoms to monitor asthma control and will make your doctor suspicious of infant asthma. 

Does your child wheeze after exposure to allergens? If wheezing occurs after exposure to allergens, then your child could have infant asthma. 

These allergens may include:- 

  1. Animal dander
  2. Dust mites
  3. Cockroaches
  4. Mold 
  5. Does your child wheeze when exposed to tobacco smoke? Smoke is a lung irritant that can lead to asthma symptoms. 
  6. Does crying or laughing cause wheezing?
  7. Does your child breathe so fast that they have difficulty finishing a bottle milk? Not being able to finish a bottle can be a sign of difficulty breathing.
  8. Wheezing
  9. Congenital heart disease
  10. Cystic fibrosis[(also known as CF or mucoviscidosis) is a common disease which affects the entire body, causing progressive disability and often early death)]
  11. Foreign object stuck in the respiratory tract
  12. Tracheoesophageal fistula (condition that occurs when there is a gap between the upper and lower segments of the esophagus, and food and saliva cannot pass through)
  13. Upper respiratory tract infection

Asthma Treatment For Infants -Time To See/Call Your Doctor

  1. Wheezing that occurs while breathing both in and out
  2. Coughing that has become continuous
  3. Very fast breathing
  4. Retractions, which means your infant’s skin is pulled into their chest as they inhale
  5. Shortness of breath
  6. Becoming pale
  7. Blue lips or fingernails – cyanosis (a bluish discoloration of the skin resulting from poor circulation or inadequate oxygenation of the blood)
Infant asthma symptoms can vary from child to child. In infant asthma, babies may have all of the classic adult asthma symptoms described below, or just one of those symptoms. Additionally, poor feeding, sweating, or appearing uncomfortable may be symptoms of infant asthma.

Below are common adult asthma symptoms

Medical professionals may also ask about the following when considering an infant asthma diagnosis:-

Generally,wheezing can be caused by many of other conditions and infections. Bronchiolitis, or inflammation of the small airways of the lungs, is the most common condition besides asthma that causes wheezing in young children. Caused by the RSV virus (a common virus that could be serious in premature babies, causing infections such as pneumonia or bronchiolitis) and other viruses such as influenza and parainfluenza, this condition can mimic asthma in infants by causing recurrent wheezing or reactive airway disease. Other conditions that may also cause wheezing include:-

Infant asthma is treated with many of the similar medications as adult asthma. Your doctor or health medical care providers may elect to start treatment if they are unsure whether your child has a diagnosis of infant asthma, or they may monitor symptoms for a period of time.

Basically,you may be worried about side effects of treatment, asthma medications are generally well-tolerated. You can learn more about asthma medication side effects here.

Research have been done on how well the typical asthma medications work in infants. Most of the current recommendations are derived from expert opinion, and many of the asthma medications are not FDA*-approved for infant asthma, although your doctor may still use them. Importantly, there is no good evidence for the use of inhaled steroids in infant asthma, so these medications are used infrequently.

FDA*-Food and Drug Administration: a federal agency in the Department of Health and Human Services established to regulate the release of new foods and health-related products.

As a parent of a child with asthma like symptoms is very important to know when you need to see or call your doctor or head to the emergency department. If you suspect wheezing and your child has never wheezed before, it is important to promptly see a healthcare provider to figure out what is causing the wheezing.

The following symptoms in your infant are indications that you need to bring him/her to a doctor for emergency care immediately:-

When you hear your infant wheezes does not mean they have asthma. But, you want to be sure by taking him/her to your doctor to make sure they do not have infant asthma.