Asthma symptoms in children can be similar to symptoms of asthma in adults. However, the most common presenting childhood asthma symptom is coughing. A cough lasting for weeks, coughing at night, and coughing during and after exercise may be the only symptom heralding the onset of asthma. An asthmatic child whose only symptom is cough generally has very mild asthma without any obstruction to breathing. If asthma should worsen, wheezing, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing may become more common.
Asthma symptoms in children are frequently worse at night. Asthma symptoms can be precipitated or made worse with any exertion, including playing and exercise, as well as emotions such as crying or laughter. These symptoms may occur during the exertion, or may be delayed 10 or 15 minutes after exertion. If there is obstruction to breathing, small children may have flaring of the nostrils and retracting of the chest wall. Some asthmatics will speak in short sentences or become agitated during episodes. These symptoms are very important to recognize as they indicate a potentially severe asthma attack or episode.
It is also important to note that many asthmatics, especially children, may not recognize or report the signs of an asthma attack until they become quite severe. An asthma specialist will help parents to be able to identify asthma symptoms in children, thereby assisting the child in getting the proper asthma treatment.