Asthma in children

What is asthma in children?

Asthma is the most common lung condition in children.

It affects around 1 in 11 children in the UK. It can appear at any age, but the symptoms usually start during childhood.

If your child has asthma, their airways are inflamed and more sensitive than usual. When the airways are irritated, the body reacts in 3 ways:

  • the muscles around the airways tighten, making them narrower
  • the lining of the airways become inflamed and swollen, making them narrower
  • the airways may start to produce more mucus than normal

These reactions make it harder for air to get into and out of the lungs. This causes the symptoms of asthma: coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. When these symptoms flare up, people sometimes say it’s an asthma attack.

There’s no cure for asthma but with the right treatment it can usually be controlled easily. Some children will find their symptoms improve or even disappear as they grow up.

Asthma UK has further information about asthma and its treatments. Asthma UK helpline - 0300 222 5800

Last medically reviewed: September 2016. Due for review: September 2019

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.