Bug Of The Month: Asthma

Technical Name: Asthma

NickNames: reactive airways, wheezing

What is it? narrowing and swelling of the tubes of your lungs that occurs when trigged by a variety of stimuli such as viruses, allergens, season changes, pets, insect stings

How is the diagnosis made? Asthma is frequent wheezing and is a clinical diagnosis that is usually given after a child has wheezed on more than one occasion and responded to bronchodilators such as albuterol.

Typical Ages: infancy to adulthood

Treatment: when I think about asthma therapy, my goals are to:

1. decrease the severity of the episodes

2. maximize airway function

3. keep the child doing what the child loves to do

Some kids just have episodic asthma when faced with their trigger such as a cold or weather change. These kids may just need treatment of that exacerbation with:

1. a bronchodilator to get the airway big again: albuterol inhaler

2. an antiinflamatory medication to eliminate the swelling: a steroid – either oral or inhaled

For kids with frequent exacerbations or symptoms that are starting to interfere with the actitities they love such as sports, preventative medications are available: inhaled steroids and an immune mediator called Singulair.

How will I know what is best for my child?

Your pediatrician will help you develop an asthma action plan for your child so you’ll know what medication to use and when, including at school.

Can asthma be dangerous? The honest truth is that asthma can be very serious and can be fatal if not treated correctly. Any child having trouble breathing who has asthma needs to be seen right away – even in the middle of the night. So, if your child is having trouble breathing:

1. give your child a dose of albuterol by inhaler or nebulizer

2. go to the nearest emergency room or call 911

Will my child out grow asthma? May kids do “out grow” asthma meaning it is worse when they are younger but often asthma does persist in one way or another throughout a person’s life.¬†Your child’s history over time will tell this story but keep in mind that there are many adults with asthma living full lives and doing great things!

Online Asthma Resources

1. KidsHealth Asthma Centers

2. Does my baby have asthma?