Asthma can affect children of all ages, even babies and toddlers. However, it can be difficult to identify asthma in small children. Tests performed on older children rarely work for young ones because toddlers are often too young to follow complex directions. Therefore, it's up to you to watch out for signs of asthma in your child and report anything you see to your doctor. They will need as much information as they can to accurately diagnose your little one, so it's a good idea to keep a journal to track any of the following symptoms.
Coughing is perhaps one of the easiest symptoms to spot in toddlers with asthma. Watch out for frequent coughing spells that happen more often during increased activity, such as playing and laughing. Asthma-related coughing may also occur at night. Unfortunately, coughing is also associated with a wide range of illnesses, so it's important to track coughing over a period of time. Coughing that clears up after a week or so is probably associated with an illness, such as a cold, rather than asthma. Continued coughing, however, is cause for concern.
Watch out for signs of labored breathing. Signs include shortness of breath or loss of breath along with wheezing and rapid breathing. You may also see your child's neck and chest retract noticeably while they are trying to breathe. Labored breathing may also lead to tightness in the chest, which will manifest as pain.
Monitor your child for breathing emergencies. If they pass out or turn blue, call for emergency medical help immediately. You should also call for help if they're having trouble focusing or staying awake while struggling to breathe.
Toddlers usually have an abundance of never-ending energy. If yours gets tired and needs to rest often while playing, they may not be getting adequate oxygen. Dark circles under the eyes, trouble sleeping and loss of appetite, are also concerning. Monitor your child's amount of sleep as well. If they are sleeping too much, it may be a sign that they are weak and tired from not getting enough oxygen.
It can be difficult to spot asthma in toddlers, but you can help your doctor diagnose your child if you pay attention and take detailed notes. If you suspect that your child is suffering from asthma or a similar condition, be sure to talk to their doctor right away and get a referral for an asthma specialist.