Do some children outgrow asthma?

Answers from James T C Li, M.D., Ph.D.

Asthma symptoms that start in childhood can disappear for some teens and young adults. For others, symptoms go away only to return a few years later. But some children with asthma — particularly those with severe asthma — never outgrow it.

In young children, it can be hard to tell whether signs and symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath are caused by asthma or something else. Sometimes, what seems to be asthma turns out to be another condition, such as bronchitis, recurrent pneumonia or bronchiolitis. These and a number of other asthma-like conditions typically improve as children get older.

Children with more severe asthma are less likely to outgrow it. Persistent wheezing and a history of allergies, especially to furry animals, also increase the odds that your child won't outgrow asthma.

It's important to diagnose and treat childhood asthma early on. Work with your child's doctor to manage your child's asthma. A written asthma action plan can help you track symptoms, adjust medications and help your child avoid asthma triggers. As your child gets older, involve him or her in the development of the action plan.

Feb. 14, 2014 See more Expert Answers