According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 8% of children under the age of 18 have asthma. While asthma in children is the same condition as asthma in adults, it can be especially frustrating and scary. Kids with asthma are sometimes forced to miss school and make more frequent trips to the emergency room.
Asthma symptoms can be triggered by exercise, allergens, illness, high stress and weather conditions. For 80% to 90% of children with the condition, allergies play a role in their asthma. Diagnosing and managing asthma in children comes with a unique set of challenges that can require specialized treatment.
At HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, we help you manage your child’s asthma so they can get back to doing what they love. Our pediatricians and specialists work together to provide comprehensive care every step of the way.
Asthma symptoms may differ from child to child. For some, the main symptom is a persistent (constant) cough. Other children may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Tightness of the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble sleeping through the night without symptoms
- Trouble exercising without symptoms
If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, it might be a good idea to schedule an appointment with one of our primary care doctors. Our primary care doctors are experts in diagnosing hundreds of conditions and can help you find answers and get started on a treatment plan if needed.
Diagnosing asthma in children is similar to diagnosing asthma in adults. We’ll usually start with a physical exam and testing their lung function with a spirometry test. A spirometer is a sensor your child will blow into. It measures the amount of air their lungs can hold and how quickly they inhale and exhale. This is the most common test for asthma.
Asthma is commonly managed with medication and making a plan with your child’s doctor to manage asthma triggers and symptoms.
Various medications are available to prevent and control asthma symptoms. We’ll prescribe asthma medication to meet your child’s unique needs. Some children with asthma take medication daily. Others take medication only with a flare-up or before or after physical activity.
Asthma medications come in different forms, including inhalers, nebulizer solutions and tablets. There are two types of asthma medications:
Quick-relief medications. These medications, also called rescue or short-acting medications, provide quick relief of asthma symptoms (coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness). They help relax muscles around your child’s airways.
Long-term medications. These medications, also called control or long-acting medications, prevent or reduce inflammation and excess mucus in your child’s airways. They also can decrease twitchiness in the airway muscles. Several types of long-term control asthma medications are available. Some long-term medications are taken regularly, up to two times a day, even when your child is not having asthma symptoms.
Our doctors will work with you to develop a plan for managing your child’s medications, triggers and symptoms. Avoiding triggers is the most effective way to prevent asthma flare-ups. Asthma management plans use a color-coded zone system to quickly understand how well controlled your child’s asthma is and any steps to stop symptoms from worsening. By following the asthma management plan, you can learn to manage asthma symptoms and keep your child doing the things they enjoy.
No. You can go directly to an asthma specialist for help with your child’s asthma.
If you haven’t talk to a doctor yet, you can also get started with a visit to one of our primary care doctors or pediatricians. Primary care doctors are skilled in treating common conditions and routinely diagnose and treat pediatric asthma. They are able to prescribe inhalers, nebulizer treatments and can refer you to one of our specialists if needed.
We accept most health insurance plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CIGNA, HealthPartners, Medica, Medicare, PreferredOne and many others.
Not sure what your insurance covers? Call the number on the back of your card for help looking at your options.
Don’t have your card in front of you? Here are member services numbers to help get you started:
- HealthPartners: 800-883-2177
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota: 800-382-2000
- CIGNA: 800-244-6224 (insurance through work); 866-494-2111 (insurance directly or through the Exchange)
- Medica: 800-952-3455
- Medicare: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
- PreferredOne: 763-847-4477 (in the Twin Cities); 800-997-1750 (outside the metro area)
- United Healthcare: 877-842-3210