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Respiratory Issues

young boy coughingAsthma is a common disease that both children and adults struggle with on a regular basis. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, find that at least 6.2 million children 18 years of age and under have asthma. With various forms of asthma and different levels of difficulty for patients, it is important to begin treatment early in a child’s life. The earlier the treatment, the easier it will be for the child to adjust to a treatment over time.

Since a child’s symptoms may not manifest in a full asthma attack, it is important for the parent to pay attention to the child’s pain. If the child does not seem to enjoy or regularly avoids outdoor activities, then the parents need to ask the child why. The child’s answer may involve difficulty breathing during athletics that makes it uncomfortable. It’s understandable that some children may prefer a more sedentary lifestyle, but asthma symptoms are much more prominent than just fatigue.

While there is no cure for asthma, we can develop a treatment that reduces symptoms and help a child live a healthier life. Common signs that a child may have asthma and need treatment can include :

  • Coughing during the day, but also at night
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Pain, tightness or discomfort in the chest
  • A decrease in one’s interest of sports or outdoor activities

Asthma can vary for each child and some children may experience more severe asthma attacks at night. Thus, treatment for asthma can vary on a few key factors.

Treatment Options

Childrens asthma can be mild or severe, depending on the child’s condition. Parents need to take the child to the emergency room if the child has a severe asthma attack that includes:

  • Inhaler does not help
  • Constant coughing or wheezing
  • Trouble breathing (more than normal)
  • Needing to sit in a forward leaning position to breathe
  • Needing to gasp in order to speak

Severe asthma attacks are not only painful but are life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. After the ER stabilizes the child, the parents can bring the child to our practice for a checkup on the child’s condition and go over preventative treatment options. In some cases, the child may need medication on a daily basis to help control the asthma symptoms.

Doctors may also recommend that parents get a peak flow meter, which is a hand-held device that measures how well the child’s lungs are functioning. If the child’s lungs are not working properly or the device measures low exhale levels, then the doctor may need to adjust the treatment method. Bronchiolitis is different bronchitis in that bronchiolitis affects younger children while bronchitis affects older children.

The short-term methods for treatment that involve short-acting bronchodilators only provide immediate relief for up to six hours and then wear off. A doctor may recommend a more long-term treatment known as maintenance medications. At Stages Pediatrics, PC, our team will also go over the necessary steps to help take care of a child with asthma. Thus, the parents know what to do in the event of an asthma attack. We also provide treatment for other respiratory issues, one such issue being bronchiolitis.

Other Respiratory Issues: Bronchiolitis

Bronchiolitis may have minor symptoms in comparison to asthma or other respiratory issues, but it can still make life difficult for children. In fact, infants born prematurely or who have a chronic heart/lung disease are at risk for developing severe bronchiolitis. Symptoms that parents need to watch out for can include:

  • Runny nose, stuffy nose, congestion
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Fast and shallow breathing
  • Vomiting after coughing
  • Flaring the nostrils
  • Poor appetite

Bronchiolitis will start out as common cold symptoms that worsen after two or three days. Since bronchiolitis is contagious, we recommend that parents take the simple step to wash hands regularly as a means of prevention. There is no known cure for bronchiolitis, but there are prevention methods and other steps that parents can take. Fortunately, most cases of bronchiolitis will fade after 12 days.

We recommend that parents bring a child with bronchiolitis into our practice for an examination. We can determine the extent of the disease and offer recommendations to help keep the child comfortable during the treatment process. Parents need to ensure that the child drinks plenty of fluids and keep a humidifier in the air.

If your child is having respiratory issues, do not hesitate to give us a call and schedule an appointment at 212-923-5050. We will schedule an appointment time and determine what treatment your child needs.