Asthma - Memphis, TN | Pediatrics East

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Asthma

Asthma 

Asthma is a condition where your child's lungs are "over sensitive" to certain things in the air causing the pipes and tubes in the lungs to swell and constrict. Asthma can be mild, occurring only every now and then, or it can be severe, happening almost every day. All asthma is serious and needs to be evaluated and treated appropriately. 

What happens during an "asthma" attack?

  • The lining of the airway tubes become inflamed (red and swollen)
  • The muscles that surround these tubes constrict or tighten (spasm)
  • Extra sticky (tenacious) mucous is produced further clogging the pipes 

 This leads to:

  • Coughing (spasms of cough; night time cough; prolonged cough > 1 month
  • Wheezing (whistling noise)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tightness or heaviness in chest
  • Choking on the thick mucous
  • Trouble exercising or playing

What triggers asthma? 

Remember asthma lungs are hypersensitive and they over react to certain things.
Common triggers are:

  • Colds (upper respiratory viruses)
  • Pollen from grass, trees or other plants
  • Mold
  • Dust mites
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Animal dander
  • Activity/exercise
  • Strong odors
  • Stress

How is asthma treated?

Asthma has been researched extensively, and there are safe and effective medications to relieve and prevent asthma symptoms. It is crucial that you be proactive in developing an "asthma treatment plan" for your child.  Important aspects of this plan are learning what aggravates your child's asthma. Keeping a journal of asthma attacks and symptoms in an effort to find your child's "triggers" is a great place to start.  Regular consultation with your primary care provider to discuss appropriate medications and how to avoid these "triggers" will improve your child's lifestyle and help keep him/her symptom free.    

What medication is used to treat asthma?

Bronchodilators: These medications will relieve the cough, wheeze and shortness of breath that occur when those tubes spasm and constrict. Albuterol is a common medication that you may be familiar with.  It is given via a nebulizer machine or more commonly through a multi-dose inhaler (MDI).  Forms of albuterol come in short acting (4 hours) or long acting forms (8 to 12 hours).   If your child is using a bronchodilator frequently (once/week) you need to schedule a visit with your provider to discuss more appropriate ways to control your child's asthma.  Frequent use of albuterol is an indication of poorly controlled asthma.   

Anti-inflammatories: These medications treat the redness and swelling (inflammation) of the bronchiole tubes.  Anti-inflammatories don't give you that immediate relief that you feel with the bronchodilator but they are just as important and they play the primary role in the prevention of "attacks". They are known as corticosteroids; similar to cortisone that is produced by our own bodies.  These are not the kind of "steroids" that body builders take to enhance their performance.  These steroids are safe, effective and play a vital role in the treatment and prevention of asthma.  There are many brands of corticosteroids and they can be given in several forms.  Your provider can find the one best suited to treat your child's asthma.  

This page was authored by Charles Bagley, PNP