Asthma - severity in children

Asthma - severity in children


Since children's airways are particularly vulnerable, bronchial asthma is one of the most common diseases in children up to the age of seven. Approximately ten percent of all children are affected by asthma in their first years of life. A large number of adults also suffer from this respiratory disease.

The mucous membrane of the bronchial tubes is much more sensitive in children and babies than in adults and the bronchial tubes are generally much narrower, which means that children can develop a respiratory disease much more quickly. Inflammation also causes the airways to become clogged with mucus more quickly and intensely. This also makes the narrowing of the bronchial tubes particularly noticeable in children.


The triggers for childhood bronchial asthma

Allergies and chronic inflammation can trigger asthma disease in children. A respiratory illness at a young age (bronchitis, for example) can be a trigger for disease, but it does not have to be. In this regard, it is definitely important that you contact a doctor immediately if you have a respiratory illness, and that you continue to deal with possible symptoms of a respiratory illness even after the illness has passed.

Allergies are also triggers for asthmatic illness. Allergies are often inherited from parents through genetic transmission to their children.

The pollen count is not only a problem for adults. In addition, pollen directly irritates sensitive areas by being inhaled. Another trigger for allergies are moulds that have settled in walls etc. and also grow there. These can also get directly into the respiratory tract by breathing. Try to keep the children as far away as possible from the allergens (allergic pathogens) so that symptoms do not occur.


In children, the symptoms of asthma can be recognized relatively quickly. The bronchial tubes swell up and the muscles located in the bronchial tubes tense up, there are strong coughing fits and mucous secretions.

Acute shortness of breath in a child is another sign that he is suffering from a respiratory disease that can lead to asthma.

Whistling on exhalation and a generally difficult common exhalation is another sure sign of bronchial asthma, as the exhalation is particularly affected. In addition, children complain of a sharp pain in the chest. It feels as if the chest is contracting.

Strong cough occurs in asthmatic disease even when one is not suffering from any cold. This cough also occurs when the child exerts himself physically. Stress and malaise can also cause the cough. Moreover, continuous coughing during the night is a sign of bronchial asthma.

These signs can generally be described quite well by the children and they can also localize the pain in breathing, so you should not have any problems in diagnosing it.

As a parent, it is important to keep a diary of the illness, noting the worsening and improvement of the symptoms. This can then help the doctor with the diagnosis.

Such a diary can also help a doctor to assess the severity of an asthmatic illness much more quickly.

Unfortunately, bronchial asthma is often overlooked in children. So, as a parent, keep a close eye on the signs of lung disease and inform a doctor immediately if anything seems symptomatic.


Diagnosis is made much easier for the doctor by keeping a diary of illnesses, as lung function tests can only be carried out on children from about 4 - 5 years of age. Precise information about the duration of the symptoms, the time of their occurrence and which substances or events have led to complaints can help the doctor.

If the child is over five, spirometry can be performed without further ado. The lung function test measures the total volume of air (determined by inhaling and exhaling) during a 1-second exhalation. An asthmatic disease can be limited by trying to keep the symptoms as low as possible.

Severity levels in children

The classification of severity is very similar in adults and children. However, the symptoms can cause more damage in children than in adults because their bodies are not yet as robust.

Generally, asthma is divided into four severity levels, which are determined by measuring the frequency of symptoms:

  • Type I Intermittent asthma: Here, symptoms show up less than once a week. At night, symptoms occur less than twice a month. The children are only slightly impaired. Physical exertion may cause severe coughing.
  • Type II mild persistent asthma: In this mild form of asthma, symptoms occur almost daily. At night, symptoms occur more often than twice. The children are no longer able to perform physical activities without restrictions. Symptoms also occur in stressful situations.
  • Type III moderate persistent asthma: In this moderate form of asthma, children suffer from daily symptoms. Symptoms also occur at night at least once a week. Sports and physical exertion can only be carried out with difficulty. Attacks occur in stressful situations.
  • Type IV severe persistent asthma: In this most severe degree of asthma, symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath are a constant companion, and symptoms also occur very often at night. The child is no longer able to engage in physical exertion or sports and is also severely restricted in other life situations.


In the case of asthma, the controller and reliever medications in themselves provide a good basis for keeping the symptoms as low as possible. The controller medications are usually taken in the form of an inhaler, whenever acute symptoms occur. Reliever medications are long-term medications that are intended to relieve chronic symptoms. In most cases, treatment involves a combination of both medications. In any case, try to let your children grow up in an environment where external influences can hardly ever cause an attack.

Nicotine smoke and negative environmental influences can cause an asthmatic attack and should therefore be avoided at all costs.

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All information used for the content comes from verified sources (recognised institutions, experts, studies by renowned universities). We attach great importance to the qualification of the authors and the scientific background of the information. Thus, we ensure that our research is based on scientific findings.
Danilo Glisic

Danilo Glisic

As a biology and mathematics student, he is passionate about writing magazine articles on current medical topics. Due to his affinity for facts, figures and data, his focus is on describing relevant clinical trial results.

The content of this page is an automated and high-quality translation from DeepL. You can find the original content in German here.



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