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Wheezing in children: Could it be asthma?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/asthma/AN01092
- With Mayo Clinic emeritus consultant
Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.read biographyclose window
Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.Jay Hoecker, M.D.
Dr. Jay Hoecker, an emeritus member of the Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, brings valuable expertise to health information content on primary care pediatrics. He has a particular interest in infectious diseases of children.
He's a Fort Worth, Texas, native, certified as a pediatrician by the American Board of Pediatrics and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He was trained at Washington University's St. Louis Children's Hospital, and in infectious diseases at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He has been with Mayo Clinic since 1989.
"The World Wide Web is revolutionizing the availability and distribution of information, including health information about children and families," Dr. Hoecker says. "The evolution of the Web has included greater safety, privacy and accuracy over time, making the quality and access to children's health information immediate, practical and useful. I am happy to be a part of this service to patients from a trusted name in medicine, to use and foster all the good the Web has to offer children and their families."
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Wheezing in children: Could it be asthma?
My 11-month-old son has had several wheezing episodes recently. Does this mean he has asthma?
from Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.
Not necessarily. Not all children who have wheezing episodes will develop asthma, and not all children who have asthma wheeze.
Wheezing is an often high-pitched whistling noise that occurs during breathing. Because a child's airways are so small, any lower respiratory infection — such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — can cause wheezing in children. Sometimes a choking episode causes wheezing. In other cases, factors such as a structural abnormality in the airways or an issue with the vocal cords contribute to wheezing in children.
Wheezing is also a classic sign of asthma — especially wheezing that won't go away or keeps coming back. In addition to wheezing, other signs and symptoms of asthma in a young child may include:
- Breathing that's louder or faster than normal
- Chest tightness
- Frequent coughing
- Coughing that gets worse after active play
A child's risk of asthma is higher if he or she has an allergy, such as a food allergy or hay fever, or one or both parents have asthma, allergies or eczema.
If your child seems to be having breathing problems, talk to the doctor. Be prepared to describe your child's signs and symptoms, including when the wheezing began, what the wheezing sounds like and when it seems to happen. The details you provide will help the doctor determine what's causing your child's wheezing and whether treatment is needed.Next question
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- Fakhoury K. Approach to wheezing in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 27, 2011.
- Sawicki G, et al. Chronic asthma in children younger than 12 years: Evaluation and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 27, 2011.
- Fakhoury K. Wheezing illnesses other than asthma in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 27, 2011.
- National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of asthma. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/asthma/asthsumm.htm. Accessed Jan. 27, 2011.