Asthma or Something Else? Warning Signs to Watch For

Although many people consider asthma to be a mild condition, the truth is, untreated asthma can kill. Beyond wheezing, gasping, and chest pain, an asthma attack makes it difficult for a child to get enough oxygen necessary to live. Several conditions produce asthma-like symptoms, but here are a few to watch out for.

Sometimes children only wheeze or gasp after exposure to certain substances in fragrances and foods. Instead of asthma on its own, these substances might be the cause of asthma-like symptoms. If your child’s breathing improves with an antihistamine during an “asthma” attack, then you are likely dealing with allergies. Keep in mind that allergies can also exacerbate a separate underlying asthma problem.

Anything that blocks or irritates the lungs, such as fine particles from burning fossil fuels or spraying harsh chemical cleaners, can cause the symptoms of asthma. Watch out for asthma-like symptoms that only occur in the presence of air-borne pollutants. According to Cohen, Placitella & Roth, pollutants like allergies can exacerbate actual asthma.

Any type of fungal, bacterial, or viral infection can make it more difficult for a child to breathe. Look for other symptoms of an infection, including a runny nose, fever, and physical aches. A child might wheeze and gasp because of too much mucous running down the throat into the lungs. An infection can also cause fluid buildup and severe inflammation that make it difficult for the lungs to process oxygen.

Since fear and anxiety can cause a child to hyperventilate, check for sources of these feelings like a scary movie or an upcoming book report. A panic attack can also cause inflammation and tightness in muscles that can make the chest feel compressed and a child feel like it is more difficult to breathe.

Blood clots, tumors, and other obstructive objects like food can adversely affect the lungs. Poor fitness and heart disease can also make a child sound like they have asthma as they gasp for breath. Additionally, a child can have a rare condition like thoracic outlet syndrome where tissues and/or extra ribs compress vessels or nerves. This compression can reduce blood flow and lower oxygen levels or affect nerves that help the lungs to work correctly.

If you suspect that your child suffered needlessly from symptoms of a misdiagnosed condition or medical negligence, speak with a medical malpractice attorney about your legal rights. An experienced attorney can help you determine if you have a personal injury case.


Author Bio:
Eileen O’Shanassy is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking. Check out her Twitter @eileenoshanassy.

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