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 Can Children Grow Out of Asthma?

 Can Children Grow Out of Asthma?

About 6 million children in the United States have asthma, a serious chronic lung disease that causes the airways to swell and fill with mucus, making it difficult to breathe. An asthma attack occurs when something — like allergens, pollution, cold air, or a respiratory infection — irritates the airways and lungs, triggering a symptom flare-up that often includes: 

Allergies and asthma often go together — most kids with asthma have allergies, and contact with allergens can trigger an asthma attack. Given that it’s possible to outgrow some allergies, it makes sense that many parents want to know if it’s possible to outgrow asthma, too.

Read on as our expert team at Pediatric Practitioners of Oklahoma answers that question — and provides insight into how pediatric asthma can change with age.

Asthma is a chronic, lifelong condition

One of the most common myths about pediatric asthma is that sometimes, it disappears as a child continues to grow and develop. Unfortunately, asthma is a lifelong condition with no cure. An asthma diagnosis means your child has asthma today, and they’ll continue to have it for the rest of their life.

Still, it’s important to recognize that this common misconception about childhood asthma is rooted in the reality that some children have significantly fewer asthma symptoms in their teens — and that proper treatment can improve severe pediatric asthma so much that it may seem as though it has disappeared.

Asthma symptoms can change over time

How your child experiences asthma can change over time, causing varied symptoms through each age and developmental stage. Let’s take a closer look:

Early childhood asthma

In babies and toddlers, asthma warning signs and symptoms include:

Babies and toddlers with asthma may also develop cyanosis, or tissue color changes, because of low blood oxygen levels. This symptom can make their tongue, lips, eye area, fingertips, and nail beds appear bluish (on lighter skin) or whitish (on darker skin).

Asthma in adolescence

Older kids and teens with asthma may also wheeze, cough frequently, and tire out easily, but they’re also more likely to experience episode-induced shortness of breath, chest tightness or discomfort, and asthma-related nighttime awakenings.

An accurate asthma diagnosis is essential

Spirometry is an important part of standard testing for asthma, but it can be difficult to conduct this test on a child under the age of 2. Even if a child is too young to be tested in this way, however, it’s usually best to err on the side of caution and treat any suspected cases of asthma.

Accordingly, asthma is often diagnosed in infants and toddlers who have persistent wheezing, wheezing that appears when they have a respiratory illness like the common cold, or wheezing that lingers after a viral infection. About two-thirds of all babies, toddlers, and preschoolers who wheeze when they have a cold no longer wheeze after the age of 6.

Even if they were initially diagnosed with asthma, this doesn’t mean they “outgrew” the condition. Instead, it likely means they didn’t have asthma in the first place.

Just as pediatric asthma can be misdiagnosed, it can also go undiagnosed until a later age. Likewise, early childhood asthma symptoms can become milder and less frequent by adolescence — only to return with greater frequency and severity in adulthood. The bottom line? An accurate asthma diagnosis is the first step toward asthma control at every age.

Why proper asthma treatment matters

If your child has been conclusively diagnosed with asthma, proper treatment is paramount. A consistent regimen detailed by an individualized asthma action plan helps control the condition and prevent a severe, life-threatening asthma attack. Even better, it may improve your child’s overall outcome.

A recent longitudinal study found that half of children with severe asthma improve significantly over a three-year period of proper treatment and effective disease control. Essentially, kids can “outgrow” severe asthma with proper care, requiring a decreased level of controller therapies over time. This doesn’t mean asthma is gone; it means it’s milder and well-managed.

Do you have questions about your child’s asthma? We’re here to help. Call or click online to schedule a visit at Pediatric Practitioners of Oklahoma in Claremore, Oklahoma, today.

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