Hearing the word, asthma stops a mom in her tracks, sends her heart into palpations and sends her mind into a whirlwind. Asthma means a child cannot breathe and if the child cannot breathe, surely, the child will die. To the untrained parent, that is the take home message from the child’s pediatrician visit. However, in the vast majority of the cases, dying from asthma is simply not the case. Asthma is a chronic lung disorder that does not have to define the child but rather be part of the many identities that make up a child much like blue eyes. As a mother of a son with asthma, I was curious to learn what causes asthma, what are the symptoms and signs, how it is treated and if there are regional differences to how asthma presents in the pediatric patient population.
According to Clinical Manifestations and Assessment of Respiratory Disease, “Asthma is defined as a lung disorder characterized by 1) reversible bronchial airway smooth muscle constriction, 2) airway inflammation, and 3) increased airway responsiveness to an assortment of stimuli.” “However, in children 5 years and younger, the clinical symptoms of asthma are variable and non-specific. Furthermore, neither airflow limitation nor airway inflammation, the main pathologic hallmarks of the condition, can be assessed routinely in this age group.” According to the Global Initiative on Asthma (GINA)
“Approximately 50% of the people with asthma develop it before the age of ten. Asthma is the most common chronic illness of childhood.” According to, Clinical Manifestations and Assessment of Respiratory Disease, a large trigger for children is environmental and the “children living in the Upstate of South Carolina, experience the September Peak of Ragweed” ac...
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...n the medication.
Although asthma is not preventable, it is controllable. Taking daily medications, sometimes rescue medications, and feeling short of breath make children feel different from their peers. By having a good, relationship with the pediatrician and working together to put a good asthma action plan and following it will make exacerbations rare, allowing children to go about the business of being children.
1. Des Jardins, Burton, Clinical Manifestations and Assessment of Respiratory Disease, MO, 2011
2. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Global Initiative for Asthma. www.ginaasthma.org. March 8, 2014
3. Dr. Michael Guyton Jr. MD interview February 22, 2014
4. Lisa Dubose NP Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine interview February 28, 2014
5. Kacmarek, Stoller, Heuer, Eagan’s Fundamentals of Respiratory Care, MO 2013
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