Pediatric Asthma Treatment Questions and Answers
Dr. Jon E. Stahlman, MD and his experienced medical staff at Allergy & Asthma Center provides care and treatment for children suffering from asthma. We expertise in diagnosis, assessment, monitoring and treatment for children with asthma. For more information, please call us or book an appointment online. We serve patients from Lawrenceville GA, Atlanta GA, Conyers GA, Suwanee GA, Duluth GA, Grayson GA, Decatur GA, Brookhaven GA, Lithonia GA and Covington GA.
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in US children affecting approximately eight percent of people under eighteen years of age. Asthma can have a major impact on children’s lives accounting for twenty-seven million emergency department visits per year and is the leading cause of missed school days. Children with a family history of asthma (one or both parents with asthma) and children with allergies and eczema are more likely to develop asthma. Children of African-American and Puerto-Rican heritage are also more likely to develop asthma.
What are the symptoms of asthma? Asthma symptoms include cough, chest tightness, chest pain, wheezing, and shortness of breath especially during exercise. Frequent episodes of “bronchitis” can also be a sign of asthma. Some kids never wheeze and only have chronic cough.
How do you diagnose asthma? Asthma in young children can be hard to diagnose since there are other conditions such as viral infections that can also cause wheezing and cough. A pediatric allergist has specialized training in diagnosing and treating asthma in children of all ages. A complete medical history including the frequency and severity of symptoms, what triggers your child’s symptoms, family history, and environmental history (presence of pets, dust, mold or cigarette smoke exposure) are all key information that help an allergist diagnose and treat asthma. Older children over the age of 5 years can also usually perform spirometry. This is a breathing test that measures lung function and can aid in the diagnosis of asthma.
What is the best way to manage pediatric asthma? The most important steps to managing asthma are recognizing and avoiding asthma triggers and correct use of asthma medications. Common asthma triggers include viral infections, allergens such as dust or pollen, irritants such as cigarette smoke, changes in weather and exercise. Every child with asthma is different and your child’s allergist can help determine what his or her specific triggers are and how to avoid them. Asthma medications include inhaled rescue medications that quickly relieve symptoms and long-term controller medications (inhaled or oral) that prevent symptoms. Controller medications are typically needed if symptoms are occurring frequently or are severe enough to require multiple office or emergency room visits. With the right treatment, children with asthma can live a normal life without restrictions.
What are the common misconceptions about asthma in children?
- Most children outgrow asthma – Asthma can improve with age but often certain situations may trigger symptoms again. Even if asthma goes into remission, patients may still need to carry a quick relief inhaler at all times.
- Children with asthma cannot exercise – Once a child’s asthma is controlled, exercise should become a part of his or her daily lives. Children with asthma can and do excel in athletics. Many Olympic athletes have asthma.
- Asthma medications will stunt my child’s growth – Inhaled corticosteroids are key medications in managing asthma but early studies did find some slowing of growth velocity (up to half an inch) in the first year of use. Since then subsequent studies have been reassuring showing normal growth on inhaled corticosteroids in subsequent years and children projected to reach normal adult height.
If you suspect your child may have asthma, call to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified Pediatric or Adult Allergy Specialists. Please call us or make your appointment online at www.allergyinatlanta.com.