Have your kids struggled with asthma symptoms? Do you wonder if your child’s respiratory symptoms are reasons to be concerned about chronic asthma?
Asthma is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood – according to the American Lung Association, there are over 6 million kids affected in the U.S.
How can you recognize if your child has asthma? Symptoms can include:
Kids with asthma are more likely to have a history of other allergic conditions, including eczema, food allergies or allergic runny nose or eyes (allergic rhinoconjunctivitis), or to have a family history of allergic conditions.
Asthma causes air passages to be extra sensitive to certain triggers, including infections, smoke, pollens, animals, and dust. This leads to airway muscle spasm, airway swelling, and decreased lung function. In young kids, asthma is usually triggered by colds and respiratory infections. In older kids, it is commonly triggered by environmental allergies or exercise also.
What are the most important steps your Raleigh, NC, pediatrician can take to help you control your child’s asthma?
First, it’s important to know the severity of your child’s asthma. Is your child’s asthma under good control? One way to answer this question is with the rule of 2’s: If your child has an asthma cough or asthma-related wheezing requiring a fast-acting inhaler or nebulizer more than TWICE A WEEK during the daytime, more than TWICE A MONTH at night time, or if your child has needed oral prednisone more than TWICE A YEAR for a significant asthma flare, then your child’s asthma may be under poor control.
If your child has signs of poor asthma control, we will likely treat your child with a daily controller medication, given by inhaler or nebulizer. Many kids don’t understand why they need to take a daily medication even if they have no symptoms. The reason is simple – their lung function will improve if chronic airway inflammation is controlled. That means they will feel better, sleep better, have better exercise tolerance, and possibly improve their chances of outgrowing asthma completely. Ask your child why they brush their teeth daily even if they do not have a tooth ache. Same idea! Many parents worry that controller medications are usually inhaled steroids. No worries – inhaled steroids are NOT absorbed into your child’s body to any meaningful extent, and will not cause steroid side effects. In fact, your child would have to use an inhaled steroid daily for 5 years do get as much steroid into their body as they would from a couple of days of prednisone.
In kids who are 6 years or older, our pediatricians will also use spirometry (lung function testing) in the office to make sure their asthma is under good control. Your pediatrician may also do allergy testing in our office to clarify potential triggers of your child’s asthma.
If your child takes a daily controller medication for asthma, your pediatrician will also assign our asthma care coordinator to help track your child’s asthma. Michaela Frost is our current asthma care coordinator – she may reach out to you by phone or through the patient portal for several reasons, including:
(1) To make sure you have an updated written asthma care plan.
(2) Facilitate an asthma follow up visit (we recommend visits every 3-4 months for all kids with persistent asthma requiring controller medications).
(3) Check in with you if your child has not received regular refills on their asthma controller medication.
(4) Check in with you after any unscheduled asthma-related ER visits or hospitalizations.
(5) Check in with you if your child seems to be requiring albuterol for quick relief more frequently than would be needed during periods of good asthma control.
(6) Help you with lab follow up, insurance related issues with medication coverage, school medication authorization forms and school asthma plans.
At Carolina Kids Pediatrics, we believe that, in most cases, asthma is a disease that can and should be managed comprehensively by your primary care pediatrician – and that your Raleigh, NC, pediatrician needs to have all the tools and resources to manage your child’s asthma.
Our pediatricians at Carolina Kids Pediatrics in Raleigh, NC always want to be available to you to help provide long-term solutions for managing your child’s asthma.
Carolina Kids Pediatrics