[Over the next couple of months, we will be outlining asthma management tips and strategies to help early learning practitioners better serve preschool-aged children. This blog is the second in the series. Click here to read the first.]

Asthma is a chronic, inflammatory disease that can develop at any age. While there isn’t a cure, it can be managed. Most people don’t have audible wheezing, but there are symptoms to look for if you suspect a child is having an asthma attack.

It is rare to have an asthma attack and not have some warning. These early warning signs can be unique to each individual with asthma. They could include: dry cough and wheezing; feeling tired, not wanting to play, and moodiness; stuffy nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and an itchy throat; stomachache, headache, or ear pain; fast heartbeat; shortness of breath or fast breathing; and/or tight chest.

During an asthma attack, muscles tighten around the airways, walls inside swell, and there’s excess mucus being produced.

If there is excess mucus, a child would cough to remove this, and it might cause a stomachache when swallowed. The muscles tightening around the airways might cause the sound of breathing to resemble a “wheeze” sound. However, most individuals with asthma don’t have audible wheezing, they just cough.

All three airway changes could cause air to be trapped in the lungs so that the child will start to feel like their chest is tight and they are breathing faster. Because the airways are tightening, less air and oxygen is reaching the air sacs, causing the heart to beat faster as it tries to bring more oxygen into the body. Having less oxygen could cause a child to feel tired, moody and not interested in activity. If allergies factor in, then allergy symptoms could present as early warning signs, too.

Next month, we’ll identify barriers that prevent proper care efforts, so they can be reduced, eliminated or avoided to improve asthma management for your children with asthma.

If you are looking for an educational program that addresses asthma in the classroom, Breathe Pennsylvania offers a 2-3 hour asthma training for Early Learning Practitioners. For more information contact me at jsimms@breathepa.org

Join me next month to continue our discussion on Asthma Management Tips for Early Learning Practitioners!