Kids MD - Asthma Missed

Robert Seith | CWK Network

"If they're waiting for that child to give them the news that they're having problems with their asthma, they may find that it's much too late."
- Dr. Randall Brown, M.D., Pediatric Pulminologist with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. -

Every single day… a pill before bedtime and two different kinds of inhalers throughout the day…

All of this to keep 14-year-old Jack McNeil's asthma under control…

"It's just like brushing my teeth, like taking a shower or something. It's just part of my life. It's easy to forget that it can be so deadly," says Jack.

"Easy to forget"

In fact, a new survey of over 1000 asthmatic teens found that 27 percent had attacks so bad they thought their life was in danger.

And yet…only half of all kids with severe asthma take their medication every day.

Experts say many kids become complacent.

"Even though the child might have mild symptoms… a severe flare up can happen at any time," says Randall Brown, M.D., a Pediatric Pulminologist with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

The survey also found 40 percent of parents didn't know their children had experienced an asthma attack in the past month…

"As children get older we become less involved in their minute to minute, hour to hour lives," says Dr. Brown.

And kids encourage that, he says. they don't tell parents… or anyone else… about their asthma attacks because they just want to fit in and be like everyone else.

That means that they may not try to call attention to themselves when they actually do need to seek medical attention… when they actually do need to reach for an inhaler," says Dr. Brown.

He says parents need to remind themselves and their child… asthma can be deadly.

And look for symptoms, don't wait for your child to say something…

"You need to stay on top of it….it's your child's health," says Jack's mother, Hillary.

"You know one instance, a bad asthma attack, you don't have your inhaler with you, you know… you don't know what can happen," adds Jack.

By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.
Asthma is the most common serious chronic disease during childhood. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) cites these startling statistics about asthma and children:

Asthma affects nearly 5 million U.S. children.
It is the cause of almost 3,000,000 doctor visits and 200,000 hospitalizations each year.
Up to 80% of children with asthma develop symptoms before age 5.
The AAAAI defines asthma as a chronic, inflammatory disease of the airways. The tubes that bring air to the lungs are constantly swollen and inflamed, making it difficult for air to move in and out freely. Those airways are also sensitive to certain triggers, which can vary from person to person. It is difficult to predict who will develop asthma and who won't, but studies have shown that certain factors are associated with the onset of asthma symptoms in children:

Wheezing accompanied by viral upper respiratory infections in infants and young children
Allergies (The relationship between asthma and allergies is very strong. If your child has allergies, be on the alert for potential signs of childhood asthma.)
A family history of asthma and/or allergy
Perinatal exposure to tobacco smoke and allergens
Asthma is a very individualized disease. No two people have exactly the same symptoms or outcomes. The bottom line, according to the AAAAI, is for parents to watch and listen to their children.

By Larry Eldridge
CWK Network, Inc.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, common symptoms of asthma may include the following:

Wheezing is a high-pitched, whistling sound that your child may make during an asthma attack. If you hear this sound as your child breathes, be sure to let your doctor know. Not all people who wheeze have asthma, and not all of those who have asthma wheeze. In fact, if asthma is really severe, enough movement of air through a person's airways may not exist in order to produce this sound.
Chronic cough , especially at night and after exercise or exposure to cold air, is a symptom.
Shortness of breath, especially during exercise, could signal asthma. All children experience a shortness of breath when they're running and jumping, but most resume normal breathing very quickly afterward. If your child doesn't, see a doctor.
Tightness in the chest is a symptom about which you may have to ask your child, especially if you notice any of the previous signs.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology offers the following tips for parents of asthmatic children:

Above all else, learn everything you can about asthma. And don't take it lightly. It is a very serious condition.
Learn what triggers your child's attacks, and avoid those triggers as best you can.
Recognize the signs of an oncoming attack, and learn to judge its severity.
Teach your child how to care for himself or herself.

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