Avoid common myths to help your child feel better.
What’s the best way to help a child who has asthma? “There are a number of myths about pediatric asthma that can be harmful to a child’s treatment,” says Anas Al-Turki, MD, a pediatric pulmonologist at the Pediatric Specialty Center at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center and a member of RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group.
“Parents and guardians need to know the truth, and we are here to help,” Dr. Al-Turki says. He sets the record straight:
Steroid medication in inhalers is safe. While some worry it may be physically addictive, the amount of steroid inhaled is very tiny, unlike systemic steroids taken by mouth. It’s not addictive and can be stopped if the child’s asthma improves.
Many children outgrow asthma. Eight out of 10 children outgrow asthma as they mature, although there are still a number of patients who will continue as adults.
Asthma is not caused by stress. Some people make this assumption because an anxiety or panic attack may cause similar symptoms, such as difficulty breathing. However, specific physical changes occur in an asthma attack. The airway becomes swollen and inflamed in response to triggers, including exposure to allergens, smoke, pet dander, pollutants, mold and cold air. An attack should never be taken lightly, and medication should always be readily available.
Children with asthma should participate in sports and active exercise. The idea that children shouldn’t engage in physical activity may stem from the fact that asthma is a lung condition that affects breathing. However, exercise is good for the lungs. There are professional athletes who have asthma. Children should use their inhaler or take their medication 20 minutes or so before sports, and they’ll be fine.
Asthma can be controlled in most cases. If you’re diligent in ensuring your child takes medication as prescribed and helping him or her avoid triggers, such as cigarette smoke and other allergens, you should find that your child is functioning well and breathing easier.
Even so, it’s important to continue with visits to your pediatric pulmonologist. Maintain the schedule suggested by your physician, so he or she can monitor lung function and head off any problems that may arise.
What is pediatric asthma?
With asthma, airways become inflamed and muscles around the airways tighten, making it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs. It is the most common serious chronic disease among children.
- Rapid or labored breathing
- Complaints of chest hurting
- Reduced energy
- Feeling weak or tired
- Family history of allergies or asthma
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Low birth weight
- Second-hand smoke before and/or after birth
- Growing up in a low-income, urban environment
Asthma can’t be cured, but it can be controlled with inhaled, oral or intravenous medications.
Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Get It Checked
Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center offers an Asthma Self-Management Education Program. It’s the only adult and pediatric program in the nation to receive certification through the American Association for Respiratory Care.
Learn more about services at CBMC’s Pediatric Specialty Center.