Did you know that asthma affects American children more than any other long-term health condition? The American Lung Association confirms that asthma, with its constricted and inflamed airways, wheezing, coughing, fatigue and shortness of breath, is very serious and needs vigilant monitoring and care. At Virginia Pediatric Group in Fairfax, Herndon, Great Falls, and South Riding, VA, your team of 15 physicians helps parents and children cope with asthma, so everyone enjoys their daily routines.
Why do asthma attacks happen?
Ranging from mild to severe and life-threatening, episodes of asthma typically start with exposure to a trigger. It may be an allergen, such as pet dander or mold, or something in the environment, such as outdoor air pollution or cigarette smoke. In addition, attacks may be precipitated by:
- Cold weather
- Colds and the flu
When children present with asthma symptoms, your pediatrician will work with you to identify triggers so you can limit your child's exposure.
Besides identifying triggers, your doctor may order a chest X-ray and lab work to rule out other health conditions. Also, they will do a complete physical examination, including a lung function test and chest auscultation (listening to breath sounds with a stethoscope).
The American Lung Association stresses the importance of an asthma action plan, well-thought out steps to take when an asthma attack starts or seems imminent. The rationale is that the child would breathe more easily, exhibit fewer symptoms, and be able to do their usual routine, including school.
Asthma action plans often include monitoring of peak flow (or the amount of air the child can exhale in a single breath) and medication. Bronchodilators are short-acting medications which mitigate symptoms quickly and long-term maintenance medications help prevent symptoms. Long-term medications, such as inhaled corticosteroids, keep airways from constricting.
Additionally, your pediatrician may recommend allergy testing. Allergies may be treated with shots or sublingual (under the tongue) medications as needed.
An old adage says, "Forewarned is forearmed." It's so true where your child's asthma is concerned. The team at Virginia Pediatric Group will help your family with questions you have regarding your child's condition, and our on-call service can address any off-hours concerns. Our Fairfax, Herndon, Great Falls, and South Riding, VA, office number is (703) 573-2432.