A new research study has confirmed what many parents have seen with their own children - many kids gradually appear to grow out of it, and the Asthma symptoms fade and the attacks are milder and rarer.
Sometimes the symptoms disappear all together.
Why does this occur? Does it imply that the child never has Asthma and was misdiagnosed? Should the child continue to carry inhalers just in case? What are the chances that the sensitivity could return, if the environmental conditions change?
Recent research reviews have provided general answers to these questions.
An average of about 20% of children 'outgrow' asthma and the severity and frequency of the attacks declines in many others. This finding was based on a long term study that tracked the incidence of wheezing and the need for inhalers with 250 child sufferers of Asthma aged 7-8 years.
Over the 10 years till they were 19, about 20% lost all wheezing symptoms, and had not used inhalers for 3 years. This loss of symptoms was classified as remission, because there was a small risk the asthma could return in later life.
Some other findings from the study were:
► Boys were more likely than girls to become asthma free. The symptom loss rates were:
The reason for the sex difference could not be established with any certainty, but it may be related to hormonal differences in adolescence.
► Children with more severe type of asthma, such as those allergic to cats and dogs showed lower rates of remission than children with milder cases to start with. Remission rates for severe asthma was still quite high at about 18%.
► Causes for the original Asthma, and changes in environment or circumstances, such as family history of asthma, environmental conditions such as damp housing, smoking and rural living, were ruled out as possible links to the remission.
► Doctors rarely describe a child who has outgrown asthma, as being 'cured' or 'Asthma-free' because it does re-occur in many children.
► The asthma in older children was classified in the study as:
► Most young people with persistent asthma were allergic to dogs, cats, horses and birch trees by the age of 7 to 8 years. The study area had a very dry climate, with low incidence of dust mites. Dust mite allergy might have affected the asthma remission rates in other areas.
► The children with persistent asthma had more severe asthma as young children and had more eczema and nasal inflammation.
The researchers advised that even if children had not shown any symptoms for a long time, parents and children should play it safe and always have an inhaler available, just in case.
These observations are not based on definitive research and are simply working theories and suggestions:
► As a child grows, the airways in the lungs get bigger and inflammation in the airways may not produce symptoms.
► Children get fewer respiratory infections as they get older and so are less likely to get Asthma triggered by infections.
► The remission was less with children who showed moderate to severe allergies. These allergies may decline as children get older.
► Children with eczema are more likely to have persistent symptoms.
► Children who have severe asthma at 5 years of age are less likely to show remission, than those with milder cases.
Mild Asthma symptoms are similar to those of upper respiratory infections.
Only doctors can properly diagnose Asthma.
Pulmonary performance and lung capacity testing can determine the severity of the asthma. However these tests cannot be done for children under 2 years of age.
Allergy testing can show possible links with Asthma.