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By Casey De Farria
Casey De Farria
01 Jun, 2021

Pre-school wheeze – does this mean my child will develop asthma?

When children are in a daycare or pre-school setting, two things are certain;

  1. Lots of fun (which means lots of stained clothes)
  2. Lots of germs (which means lots of sickness!)

Pre-school wheeze is a condition that affects little ones’ airways, between one and five years old. You may hear doctors refer to it as reactive airway disease or viral-induced wheeze.

Hearing your little one wheeze will likely have you worried, and wondering what is going on. Pre-school wheeze is the result of muscles tightening in the airway and/or a build-up of mucous in the airway. It is the narrowing of the airways that causes the wheezing sound. Note that environmental factors such as cold air, dust mites, and smoke, can trigger wheezing.

Wheezing presents as a high-pitched raspy sound or whistle when breathing out. Signs and symptoms of pre-school wheeze can also include fast breathing and children finding it harder to breathe, as well as a cough. You may also notice your little ones’ chest drawing in (more than usual) when breathing.

Many parents may feel that their child suffering from pre-school wheeze, is an indication that they will go on to develop asthma later in life – but this is not the case. Children with pre-school wheeze do not suffer from this as the result of asthma, but the result of viral illness. Most children with pre-school wheeze will grow out of it and will not be diagnosed with asthma.

If you think your child is suffering from pre-school wheeze, see your GP so that they can be assessed. Your GP will prescribe any required medication as well as discuss/create an action plan with you so that anyone who looks after your child is aware of their condition and how to handle it.


Asthma in Pre-school children – Discusses the difference in asthma and pre-school wheeze

Pre-school wheeze fact sheet – A great resource from Children’s Health Queensland, that explains pre-school wheeze.

Oo, Stephen;  Le Souëf, Peter The wheezing child: an algorithm.Australian Family Physician Volume 44, No.6, 2015 Pages 360-364 – Provides some insight into children growing out of pre-school wheeze.

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