In children with asthma, the lungs and airways become inflamed when exposed to certain triggers. Asthma symptoms can interfere with school, sports, sleep, and daily life. Unmanaged asthma can lead to dangerous asthma attacks and damage to growing lungs.
Many children with asthma also have food allergies, skin allergies (e.g., eczema), or hay fever. Children with a family history of allergies and/or asthma and frequent respiratory infections are also at greater risk for pediatric asthma. Also, low birth weight and exposure to secondhand smoke before and/or after birth can increase risk.
While symptoms can begin at any age, most children with asthma have their first symptoms by age 5. Not all children wheeze; sometimes the only symptom is a chronic cough. Other children have symptoms only when exercising.