Springtime heralds the coming of blossoming flowers, often followed by coughing and sneezing. But some respiratory symptoms may be due to more than allergies, according to Arthur Atlas, MD, director of the Respiratory Center for Children at Goryeb Children’s Hospital. “About 10 percent of the population has asthma, a chronic condition characterized by inflammation of airways in the lungs. Asthma can be triggered by the seasons and weather, and we see more symptoms in the spring.”
Dr. Atlas says some of the symptoms to look for in children include frequent coughing, a wheezing sound when exhaling, shortness of breath or chest congestion. A peak flow meter or symptom scores can be used to monitor the control of asthma. A decrease in peak flows or an increase in respiratory symptoms are early signs of worsening asthma.
Asthma is treated with quick-relief medicine to stop symptoms and long-term control medicine to prevent symptoms. “Inhaled medicine, such as albuterol, helps with acute symptoms,” says Dr. Atlas. Doctors may also prescribe longer-term anti-inflammatory medicines such as inhaled steroids or long-acting bronchodilators.
For those children who have been diagnosed with asthma, the Asthma Program at the Respiratory Center for Children, Goryeb Children’s Hospital, offers evaluation, educational programs, treatment and follow-up care. The center’s pediatric respiratory specialists offer a full range of pediatric pulmonary care services using advanced technology and treatments.
Because asthma is a chronic condition, Dr. Atlas recommends being proactive by developing a treatment plan to prevent symptoms that can increase in the spring. A treatment plan will include ways to avoid asthma triggers, monitor symptoms and take medicines. Some ways to minimize not only asthma symptoms but allergies in general include: Stay inside on high-pollen days; use air-conditioning; use saline rinses; or take over-the-counter antihistamines.