Posts for tag: Asthma
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.
Childhood asthma is more common than you might think. In fact, it is the most common chronic disorder in children, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Asthma is a long-term respiratory condition that causes swelling within the airways, making it different for your little one to breathe. How do you know if your child might have asthma? The telltale signs include:
- Trouble or difficulty breathing
- Wheezing or whistling when breathing in
- Tightness in the chest
- Coughing that often gets worse at night
- Fatigue, especially with exercise or play
If your child is experiencing or complaining about any of these symptoms it’s important that you schedule an appointment with a pediatrician as soon as possible. It’s important to write down the exact symptoms your little one has been experiencing, particularly because their symptoms may not be present during their evaluation. If you have a family history of asthma, this is something that your child’s pediatrician will want to know.
During the evaluation your doctor will also perform a physical exam, taking time to listen to both the heart and the lungs for signs of asthma. Sometimes a test known as spirometry will be used to test the lung function (this is most common in children over the age of 6 years old). This test is used to measure how much air is in the lungs and how quickly your child can exhale. Other tests may also be performed to check for other health issues that could be exacerbating your child’s asthma symptoms such as a sinus infection.
Asthma is serious and requires medication to keep this problem under control. While there is no cure for asthma, your pediatrician’s goal for asthma treatment is to prevent the severity and frequency of asthma attacks. We want to prevent your little one from having to rush to the hospital for a severe attack. Luckily, there are medications that your children’s doctor can prescribe to lessen asthma symptoms.
The type of asthma medication your child receives will depend on several factors including age. Infants and toddlers may require inhaled steroids to control asthma symptoms. The dosage will also change depending on your child’s age. Along with long-term medications that will be taken every day to help control symptoms and keep inflammation down there are fasting-acting medications that your child will also be prescribed (e.g. albuterol), which is only used when your little one feels an attack coming on. Before any medication is given to your child, your pediatrician will talk to both you and your little one about how to use asthma medication properly.