Your kiddo has that cough that just won’t go away. Is it a simple chest cold, or could it be allergen triggers resulting in asthma? With asthma rates continuing to rise in children, it could very well be the latter. Breezy Mama turned to Stephen Apaliski, MD and author of the book Beating Asthma: Seven Simple Principles for help in learning what asthma is and what the diagnosis means for your child.
Can you explain what is happening to the body when one “has asthma”?
When someone has asthma, their airways (lungs) react to various triggers (allergens, chemicals, pollution, for example), by producing more mucus, becoming inflamed, and becoming narrower. These reactions can result in cough, chest tightness, and wheezing.
Are there different types of asthma?
Asthma can be divided into extrinsic (triggered by allergies) and intrinsic (triggered by chemical fumes, weather changes, and upper respiratory infections) types. 75% of children with asthma have allergies.
What are signs we need to look for in our child if we think they may have asthma?
Cough is probably the most important thing to watch for, especially a cough that lingers for weeks or longer. Cough that wakes a child from sleep, or is triggered by physical exertion, is also a clue that they may have asthma. Wheezing (a whistling sound) in the chest is also a key sign but does not occur in everyone with asthma.
Is asthma easily controlled?
Avoiding triggers and the use of minimum medications can easily control asthma in most children. When asthma is controlled, nighttime symptoms occur less than twice a month and rescue inhalers (bronchodilators) are needed less than 2 days a week (outside of exercise).
What can happen if it’s not controlled?
Uncontrolled asthma is the cause of much suffering. School is missed, sleep is disrupted (often for the entire family), activities (including sports) are interfered with, and there is a need for unscheduled doctors’ visits and hospitalizations. Uncontrolled asthma may even result in remodeling of the lungs, where the structure of the airways is permanently changed at the microscopic level.
Are there certain things that can trigger an asthma attack?
Many things can trigger an asthma attack. They vary from child to child. Allergens, such as animal dander, dust mites, pollens, molds, and non-allergic factors such as strong odors, air pollution, viral upper respiratory infections, and sinus infections are some of the major triggers of asthma attacks.
Can asthma be treated naturally?
Since 75% of children with asthma have allergies, the most natural way to treat it is by avoiding those things to which they are allergic. Allergy shots (immunotherapy) can reduce the risk of developing asthma in children with allergies who have a parent with asthma. Consulting with a Board-certified allergist is a good step in finding the causes and the correct strategy for treating your child’s asthma.
Why do you think so many kids are being diagnosed with asthma?
It is uncertain, but it does appear that the prevalence of asthma is on the rise worldwide. Some cite air pollution (especially in urban areas) as a potential culprit. The hygiene hypothesis states that all allergic diseases, including asthma, are on the rise because we have reduced exposure to germs and allergens early on in life, predisposing our bodies to develop allergies rather than tolerance to things like pollens, molds, and animal dander.
Anything you’d like to add?
Yes! Uncontrolled asthma is a major problem in about 7 out of 10 people with asthma. I believe that an empowered parent, in partnership with a physician who is an asthma expert, is the most powerful tool in battling this problem. Beating Asthma (www.beatingasthma.com) provides powerful information to parents aimed at helping them achieve the best control over asthma possible.
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About Stephen Apaliski, MD: Dr. Apaliski has been a practicing physician for over 30 years. He first trained as a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and later as an allergist at Wilford Hall United States Air Force Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. In 1990, he served as a flight surgeon in the first Gulf War.
Dr. Apaliski is Board Certified in Pediatrics as well as Allergy and Immunology. In addition, he is a Fellow of the American College of Allergy and Immunology and a Board Member of the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America—Texas chapter. He is also certified by the Association of Clinical Research Professionals as a Certified Physician Investigator. In addition to seeing patients in his medical practice at the Allergy & Asthma Centers of the Metroplex and conducting Clinical Trials as the Medical Director of Discovery Trials-Arlington, Dr. Apaliski is on the medical staff at THR Arlington Memorial Hospital in Arlington, Texas.
Dr. Apaliski is also a speaker for various pharmaceutical companies, helping to educate physicians and other health care providers about the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and allergic diseases.
To purchase XXXX book, Beating Asthma: Seven Simple Principles ($17.05), click here.