Prather Pediatric and Allergy Center - Ask Doctor Brent

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Title: Asthma in Children

Category: Asthma and Allergy


About one in four children have some chronic disease. Of all chronic diseases, the most common by far is asthma. Asthma affects up to 8 percent of white children, 18 percent of black and 25 percent of Hispanic children at some time in their childhood. Prior to adolescence, boys have asthma twice as commonly as girls and they have it in equal amounts after adolescence.

Asthma can be defined simply as a condition in which there is airway obstruction and inflammation and hyper-responsiveness. This typically causes wheezing, which responds to bronchodilator medicines. Occasionally, however, it is seen when a child just coughs a lot and does not necessarily wheeze. This is especially common in young children. This cough asthma syndrome or sub- clinical asthma may be as common as onethird of all cases. In each asthma attack, there is a marked increase in mucous production and swelling of the inner walls of the bronchi, or lung tubes. The classic three findings are wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath.

Asthma triggers include viral infections, air pollution, pollens (such as grasses, weeds, trees, molds), changes in weather, exposure to cold air, exercise, and even emotions.

Treatment of asthma should involve:

1. Avoidance of triggers as much as possible,

2. Medical therapy with both bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory medicines,

3. Immunotherapy, or allergy shots in severe cases.

Education or a good understanding of the overall asthma condition with a special partnership between the child, the parent and the physician is very helpful. I believe it is wise to have a written step by step treatment plan for routine asthma and severe emergency asthma. It should be carried by the child or parent and posted on the refrigerator.

The biggest change in asthma therapy which has allowed us to control asthma much better in children and allowed almost all children with asthma to lead a full life is the more aggressive use of anti-inflammatory medicines. This includes Chromalin sodium or Intal and several different inhaled corticosteroid sprays including Vanceril, Beclovent, Azmacort, Aerobid and even Nasalide, which is a nasal spray but can be used in nebulizers for babies with hard to control asthma. By using these safe anti-inflammatory meds more aggressively, we can control 99% of asthmatics very well and allow them to avoid missing school and normal childhood activities they like to participate in such as sports, etc. Discuss the overall asthma treatment plan with your physician so that you have a good grasp of just how aggressively you should use your medicines on a daily and emergency basis and go to asthma support group meetings with and for your child as much as possible. Consider joining the Mothers of Asthmatics National Organization or the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America for better understanding and group support.


* Mothers of Asthmatics
3554 Chain Bridge Road Suite 220
Fairfax, VA 22030-2709

or call:  (703) 385-4404


* Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America Lafayette Chapter
P.O. Box 52763
Lafayette, LA 70563

or call:

(337) 893-3722