Wheezing in children is becoming more common. One of my sons suffers from wheezing since he was a baby. Although not considered to be serious, it is nevertheless not a nice sound to hear. Butwhat is wheezing?
Mayo Clinic experts define wheezing as “a high-pitched, whistling noise that usually occurs with exhaling.”
Other signs of wheezing are:
- Breathing that is louder than normal or faster than normal. Newborns typically take 30 to 60 breaths a minute. Toddlers typically take 20 to 40 breaths a minute.
- Frequent coughing or coughing that worsens after active play.
- Coughing, clear mucus and a runny nose caused by hay fever.
Wheezing is a symptom of asthma but it is not always due to asthma. However, it can be the start of asthma. Studies have shown that babies younger than 1 year who suffer continuously from wheezing for two years have significantly increased risk for asthma, say by age 3. But what causes wheezing?
According to University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, wheezing can be triggered by
- Toxic fumes generated by traffic
- Exposure to allergens indoors
Levels of traffic-related fumes were measured based on the locations of homes and day care and their proximity and exposure to vehicular traffic. Indoor levels of endotoxin in these locations were measured from collected dust samples. Aside from household dust, endotoxins can also come from dog dander and exposure to other pets.
The researcher also found that the combination of the outdoor and indoor types of triggers seems to worsen the wheezing. Called coexposure, traffic fumes and indoor endotoxics seem to have a synergistic effect on persistent wheezing in small children.
According to Dr. Patrick Ryan who led the study:
So when does wheezing becomes full-blown asthma? Unfortunately, diagnosis of asthma in children under 5 is somewhat difficult. However, the following can be good indications of asthma according to Mayo Clinic experts:
- Wheezing that won’t go away or keeps coming back
- Having a parent with asthma, allergies or eczema
- Having an allergy, such as a food allergy or hay fever
According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- 16.4 million non-institutionalized American adults (7.3%) had asthma in 2008.
- 7.0 million American children (9.4%) had asthma.
- 3,613 people died of asthma in 2006, an equivalent of 1.2 deaths per 100,000 population.
- 10.6 million visits to doctors in 2006 were due to asthma. Of these 444,000 resulted in hospitalization with asthmas first-listed diagnosis. The average duration of hospital stay was 3.2 days.