Asthma Treatment Center

We are specialized in diagnosing and treating mild to very difficult to control asthma.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease commonly identified during childhood. It affects all airways of the lungs and occurs from:

  • Inflammation
  • Bronchospasm
  • Increased Mucous Production

Symptoms occur when airways are irritated from asthma triggers. More than 14 million school days and 14.5 million work days are missed annually due to asthma. Asthma can be controlled in the majority of children if properly treated.

It is important to visit your doctor if your child has been diagnosed with asthma and they cough or wheeze regularly. It is often helpful to track these symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of asthma include the following:

  • Persistent cough
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing with exercise
  • Cough during the night
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing

Common asthma triggers include:

  • Tobacco Smoke (major contributor)
  • Respiratory Viral Infections
  • Exercise
  • Strong Odors
  • Perfumes or Cleaning Agents
  • Environmental Allergens
  • Dust
  • Mold or Mildew
  • Cold Air

Triggers are specific to each child, but smoking and second-hand smoke have been found to have a strong negative effect on children's asthma. Protect your child from second-hand smoke by keeping your home and cars smoke free.

For more information about kids and smoking, please visit www.raisesmokefreekids.com

Other triggers include natural things found in our environment such as molds, trees, grasses, weeds and common pets. If the child is old enough, skin-testing for these environmental allergens can be performed.

Frequently Used Medications

Quick relief medication is used for fast relief of asthma symptoms like cough, wheeze, or difficulty breathing. Examples include Albuterol, Xopenex and Maxair.

Controller medication is used on a daily basis to prevent asthma symptoms. This is usually an inhaled corticosteroid. Examples include Qvar. Pulmicort, Flovent, Asmanex, etc.

One type of controller medication is combination therapy. This is when two or more medications are combined to help control asthma symptoms. These include Advair and Symbicort. A controller medication will not provide quick relief for asthma symptoms and should not be taken to relieve asthma symptoms.

Steroid burst is a course of oral steroids that is usually prescribed for a few days when a patient is having an asthma exacerbation to help relieve airway inflammation. Examples include Orapred, Prednisolone and Prednisone.

Frequently Used Asthma Terms

Asthma exacerbation - This refers to a period in time where asthma symptoms were occurring frequently during the day and night, and a quick relief medication was needed at least every four hours.  Another name for this is asthma flare-up.

Bronchospasm - Tightening of the muscles around the airways, which makes them narrower and more difficult to get air into and out of the lungs.

Inflammation - irritation, redness, and swelling of the airways.

Triggers - Anything that causes your child to have asthma symptoms.

Zones - This term refers to the patient's asthma action plan and consists of green, yellow and red zones which are categorized by symptoms. This information helps your provider determine how bad the child's asthma is at that time.

Things to Remember about Asthma

Valved-holding Chamber (or Spacer) Use: The Children's Hospital recommends that all children using a metered-dose inhaler (MDI) for either a controller medication or quick relief use a valved-holding chamber with the MDI to improve medication delivery technique, decrease the amount of medication deposited in the mouth, and increase the amount of medication to the lungs.

During a visit to the pulmonary department for asthma, the patient will be given a Valved-holding chamber if they do not already have one.

Prevention of the Flu: It is important for all asthmatics to receive a flu vaccine every fall. The flu, which is also called Influenza, can make an asthmatic very sick because the virus attacks the lungs and can cause breathing problems, making asthma worse. Since the flu shot only works for one year a new shot is needed each fall to protect the child from catching the flu.

School/Camp Information: Many schools have forms that must be completed by a physician in order for the child to be able to keep quick-relief medication with them at all times or at the nurses office. If your child is a patient in the pulmonary clinic, you can bring the school forms to the office and our nurses will complete the forms and send them to the school or give them to you at the end of the visit.

 

Cleaning equipment: Asthma equipment should be cleaned at least once a week to ensure its effectiveness.

Exercise: Asthmatics should remember to treat themselves with quick-relief medication 15-30 minutes prior to exercise to help reduce asthma symptoms.

Vacation Planning: It is important for an asthmatic to always have their quick relief medication available to them in the case that they start to have difficulty breathing, wheezing, or persistent coughing.

When planning for a vacation, remember to check that you will have enough controller medication to last throughout the trip, and that quick-relief medication (example: Albuterol) is easily accessible during travel. If a controller medication is stopped for more than a few days, the level of medication in the lungs will quickly decrease, and it will take about two weeks after restarting the medication to return to a therapeutic level.

Also, it is important to consider location and environment for the asthmatic when traveling on vacation. If the vacation is planned for outdoors, you may consider speaking to your physician about bringing an allergy medication with you for any allergies that the child may be exposed to in his/her new environment to prevent an asthma exacerbation.

What happens during an Asthma Flare Up?

Watch this animation explaning exactly what happens during your child's Asthma flare up.