Lisa Katz Buglino, D.O.

Did you know that the beginning of the school year is when most children with asthma have a flare of their symptoms?  Not only is asthma one of the most common diseases of childhood, but it is also one of the most common reasons why children miss school.  Despite better understanding and improved medication for this disease, the number of children with asthma is increasing. Therefore, it is important to know the common signs and symptoms of asthma and what you can do to control it.

Common symptoms of asthma include:

·         Cough

·         Rapid breathing

·         A diagnosis of recurrent pneumonia

·         Chest tightness/shortness of breath

·         Wheezing

Your child may not be able to describe all of these symptoms but may look uncomfortable or irritable.  These symptoms may be present at rest, during sleep, or after exercise.

The most likely cause of asthma is allergies and the majority of children with asthma (almost 90%) have allergies.  Common allergic triggers include:

·         Dust mites

·         Dog and cat dander

·         Mold

·         Pollen

Depending on the allergen, there are different things you can do to reduce exposure.  For example:

·         Reduce exposure to dust by keeping the house clean

·         Cover the bed with a dust mite cover

·         Remove carpet and other things from the bedroom that may collect dust (such as stuffed animals)

During the pollen season, patients can keep the windows closed, wear sunglasses while outside, and shower at bedtime – all in attempt to decrease exposure to pollen.

High impact sports and running can also trigger asthma symptoms.  Sometimes parents wonder if their child can participate in sports if they have asthma.   With proper management of asthma, asthmatics can maintain full participation in most sports.   In fact, aerobic exercise can improve airway function by strengthening breathing muscles.

If a parent or child is aware that their asthma is getting worse, it is essential they call their physician.  With proper medical management, we can prevent patients from having to be seen in the emergency room.  Prescription medications are available that can prevent and relieve asthma symptoms.  Please know that medications are always tailored to a child’s symptoms, severity, and age and your pediatrician can help decide what is right for your child.  As we all know, every child is different and therefore treatment and causes of asthma will vary based on each child’s unique disposition.