Above is a video of 9-month-old baby Florence, taken by her mom, Sophie Cachia, the blogger behind Young Mummy in Australia. “The sucking-in under her throat [and] her ribs means she's working really hard to breathe,” the mom wrote as the caption on Instagram.
Sophie explained she took the video to show doctors in case her daughter’s symptoms diminished by the time they got to the hospital. At the time, the family was on their last day of a vacation. Florence had already been to the hospital earlier in the trip because of an asthma attack.
Since her older son Bobby was also asthmatic, Sophie and the rest of her family were quite familiar with the warning signs. “We used prior knowledge and listened to our gut, and Jaryd (her husband) took her [to the hospital] just before bedtime,” she said. While they may be familiar with asthma, Sophie still says attacks are “petrifying.”
According to Sophie, the trigger might have been the sudden changes in weather “either too cold or too hot,” she explained in another Instagram post.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), signs of asthma in a baby or toddler include:
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working hard to breathe (nostrils flaring, skin is sucking in around and between ribs or above the sternum, or exaggerated belly movement)
panting during normal activities like playing, tiredness
a pale complexion
A cough accompanied by wheezing or noisy breathing is another sign, pediatric pulmonologist Dr. Mark Herbert Rosariotold The Philippine Star.
Asthma is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation of the air passages of the patient’s lungs. A family history of asthma or allergies will increase the chances of a child getting asthma early in life, according to AAFA, and many children with asthma will have symptoms before they turn 5 years old, explained the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACCAI).
However, it can be difficult to tell if the symptoms are caused by asthma, especially in small kids, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is partly because of a lot of illnesses, like bronchiolitis and pneumonia, present similar symptoms.
Infants and toddlers will not be able to describe what’s wrong or what they’re feeling. It is problematic as asthma can be especially perilous for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers whose bronchial tubes are already small and narrow. “Head colds, chest colds, and other illnesses can inflame these airways, making them even smaller and more irritated,” said ACCAI.
Hence, being informed of the condition’s symptoms is crucial. “Any asthma symptom, whether mild or severe, is always serious; even mild symptoms can quickly become life-threatening,” added ACCAI.
If your child has asthma, AAFA advised parents to learn the warning signs of increasing asthma in young kids and to know a child's particular asthma symptom “pattern.” Also, stick to the asthma care plan you've discussed with your child's doctor and, as early as possible, teach your child how to tell you in words or gestures that she's not feeling well.