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Published on: January 30, 2013 | Category: Medical Health Topics

Asthma is a chronic disease of tubes that carry air to the lungs. It is characterized by episodic cough especially at night or with exertion, wheezing, chest tightness or shortness of breath. Asthma affects 1 in 10 children in United States and is the most common cause for hospital admission and school absence in children. Asthma may appear at any age; however, between 80% and 90% of children with asthma develop symptoms by age 4 or 5 years.
Early warning signs that a child is at risk for developing asthma include— family history of asthma, eczema during infancy and frequent lower respiratory symptoms before the first birthday. Symptoms of asthma can vary in presentation and severity ranging from mild (intermittent cough/wheezing) to severe (more frequent symptoms affecting daily activities). Children with asthma can be sensitive to irritants including viral infections, cigarette smoke, cold air, and chemicals in the air. Allergies to dust, animals, pollens, and molds can also be irritants.

Early recognition and treatment of asthmatic attacks is extremely important. Peak flow meter is a simple hand-held device to test how well the lungs are working day-to-day. Two groups of asthma medications are used—long-term control and quick relief. These drugs are usually administered in form of inhaler. Children may need to use a tube called spacer with their inhaler to increase the efficiency of the medicine.

Majority of asthmatic children can participate in physical activities at school and in sports with minimal difficulty, provided the asthma is under satisfactory control. Your pediatrician will develop a customized asthma action plan for your child to help control and manage his asthma symptoms. The goal is to maintain a healthy lifestyle by reducing the incidence of negative health outcomes associated with pediatric asthma.

Dolly Ubhrani, MD
CFP Pediatric division

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