Viral-induced asthma

Viral-induced asthma in adults and children

Sometimes it is an infection of the airways, flu or a heavy cold that causes asthma to strike for the first time. If the asthma is then getting worse every time you have a cold or if it only appears in connection to infections, it is usually called viral-induced asthma. This type of asthma dominates among children, in particular those under two years old.

Scientists do not know exactly what the underlying cause of viral-induced asthma is, but RS-virus (Respiratory Syncytial) or a common cold virus most often triggers the disease. Children having a cough or a runny nose are not uncommon, especially when they return to day care or to school after a break and that does not necessarily mean that they have asthma. If the colds reoccur often and the child is suffering from a prolonged cough or wheezing or whistling sounds that come from the chest, those can be symptoms of cold-induced asthma. If the child, in addition, suffers from allergies or other members of the family have asthma, the probability increases that the symptoms are signs of asthma and not of an ordinary cold.

Can viral-induced asthma be prevented or disappear with age?

It may sometimes be difficult to draw a sharp line between cold-induced asthma and allergic asthma. Some children who initially only get asthma in connection to infections may develop allergies later, while viral infections are the most common cause of the asthma deteriorating in children with allergic asthma. If the child does not have any allergies and none of the parents have asthma the chances are good that the problems will disappear with age, often before the child reaches preschool age. In some children viral-induced asthma will transform into exercise-induced asthma, while other children will develop allergic asthma.

The cold viruses triggering infection-induced asthma easily spread via air and via immediate contact, wherefore it is of high importance to wash your hands using soap and water, especially during flu seasons. Regardless of whether the person with cold-induced asthma is an adult or a child it is not good to be spending time in smoky or damp damaged environments, since that too can trigger airway problems.

Cold-induced asthma cannot be cured with asthma medications but just like with other types of asthma it may be successfully treated so that you or your child will be able to live a normal life. The treatment of viral-induced asthma varies from individual to individual, and depends on the severity of the problems. If the symptoms only appear in connection with infections and if there is no allergy in the picture it may be sufficient to treat it periodically with inhaled steroids. If the symptoms start to break out even in between infections, or more often than once a month during a period of several months, it may be necessary to take preventive medication every day. 




UK/GEN/15/0055a       Date of preparation: December 2015 

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Do you have asthma?

Is it sometimes hard for you to breathe during exercise? Do you suffer from pain or tightness in the chest, whistling sounds or a cough as you inhale cold air, or do you suffer a prolonged cough after colds?  

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