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Detecting Asthma In Kids

While asthma is a very common problem among school age children, the symptoms of the condition are often overlooked by parents, reports Correspondent Anne Peterson of CBS News affiliate KCTV-TV in Kansas City, Mo.

Almost five million children are diagnosed with asthma in the U.S. and it's the number one reason why kids miss school.

There are ways to recognize the hidden warning signs to make sure your child is properly diagnosed with asthma.

Ten-year-old Tyler Smith says when he starts having an asthma attack, it's like breathing out of a straw.

"I can barely breathe. I have to take big, deep breaths instead of just breathing regularly," he says.

Asthma can easily go undiagnosed because a variety of factors can trigger it. Exposure to smoke, dust, mold, infections, and exercise all can spark an asthma attack. Adults may not make the connection that some seemingly mild symptoms can signal a potentially life-threatening problem.

"I think the more understanding parents, teachers, and nurses have about asthma the better the child with asthma is going to be," says Dr. Tim Smith of the Asthma Center of Kansas City.

Warning signs that should never be ignored are coughing at night and shortness of breath while exercising. Even a cough that lingers long after a respiratory illness may be a symptom.

Wheezing or chest tightness are two other clues. If your child shows any or all of these symptoms, a doctor's attention is necessary.

By recognizing these warning signs and getting your child on the appropriate treatment early, adverse effects asthma may have on his or her learning can be prevented.