Could It Be Asthma?

Learn why your child's huffing and puffing while at play may be a sign of something serious: asthma.

Maybe you think your child just isn't a "natural athlete" because he or she has trouble keeping up with others on the playing field. That huffing and puffing, though, might be a symptom of asthma. Other symptoms may include coughing at night, wheezing, and tightening of the chest.

A report just released by the Environmental Protection Agency shows the proportion of kids with asthma rose from 3.6 percent in 1980 to 8.7 percent in 2001. That's more than 6.3 million children living with asthma today.

Unfortunately, asthma often goes undiagnosed in both kids and adults simply because they've never had an asthma attack -- a terrifying experience of breathlessness and panic.

To address that, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology conducts an annual Nationwide Asthma Screening Program. Beginning in May, free screenings will be held at more than 300 locations across the country.

Your child -- and you -- will have a chance to talk to a doctor, fill out a short questionnaire, and take a lung function test that involves blowing into a machine through a tube.

To find the screening site closest to you, log on to or write to: Nationwide Asthma Screening Program, c/o PCI, 35 East Wacker Dr., Suite 1254, Chicago, IL 60601.

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