by Anneke Sager, MSN, CPNP
The most common chronic disease in childhood, asthma is a disease of inflammation that inflames and narrows the airways of the lungs causing difficulty in breathing. In asthmatics, the airways become more sensitive to certain irritants or triggers. Increased irritability of the airways or bronchial tubes may occur due to common triggers such as: viral illness (especially in infants and young children), allergens (in allergic individuals including dust, mold, pollens, animal dander), smoke, cold air, and exercise. Parents of asthmatics are familiar with asthma symptoms such as cough (that may be worse at night and in the AM), wheezing, shortness of breath, and a decrease in play or physical exertion. These symptoms may come and go and may worsen at any time there is an asthma flare.
As your primary care providers, our job is to work closely with parents and children to insure that asthma is in good control throughout the year. When parents need to treat increased asthma symptoms when children are not sick by giving a child relief Albuterol/Xopenex (bronchodilators) more than two times a week during the day or more than two times at night in one month, your child is experiencing poor asthma control and has signs of persistent asthma. Children with persistent asthma tend to experience more severe and prolonged asthma flares. Asthmatics with persistent inflammation of asthma require inhaled corticosteroids (anti-inflammatory daily controller medication) to decrease inflammation and to prevent damage to the airways through thickening and remodeling. Our goal for asthma patients is that they attend school regularly, sleep well, and participate in physical activity and sports. Your child should not require unscheduled ER or office visits due to recurrent severe asthma flares. When children with asthma are in good control they should not require oral steroids or experience recurrent pneumonias. To accomplish these goals, we need to follow our asthma patients on a regular basis.
When children are between eight to nine years old, we are able to test lung function (Spirometry) in our office. Younger children starting at five years of age may perform peak flow testing that can be followed by parents at home to guide illness progression and asthma control. If you have not scheduled an asthma follow-up visit in the past six months (or in the past one to three months after starting inhaled steroids), please call us for an appointment. Anneke Sager, MN, CPNP, is our asthma specialist and is available to provide asthma consultations and follow-up care. During these visits, Anneke provides assessment, education and treatment plans.
Currently, Spirometry testing may be scheduled at our Lake Forest office with review and appropriate asthma follow-up scheduled in the office with Anneke or your primary care provider. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your SOCPA office at any time.
The contents of this web site are provided as an informational tool. This is not intended to replace medical advice or care administered by a healthcare professional. Common sense should always be used when referencing this site. If, at any time, you feel your child is experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.