December 1, 2017 6:36 pm
Every parent wants their kids to be healthy, and some changes to their health can trigger an all-out panic of Googling their symptoms. Rather than starting your research after a symptom appears, start educating yourself now so you’ll know what to look for and how to react. To lend a hand, our board-certified pediatricians and nurse practitioners at Children’s Wellness Center are breaking down the differences between two similar issues: allergies and asthma. Read on to find out more about how to tell the difference between allergies and asthma in your kids.
Asthma vs. Allergies: The Basics
First, you’ll want to have a general understanding of asthma and allergies. Asthma is a condition of chronic airway inflammation. The condition is always there, but certain triggers will irritate the airways and cause them to constrict much more. These triggers depend on the child, but common ones include illness, exercise, certain allergens or weather conditions, pet hair and dander, and strong laughing or crying. When this happens to a severe degree, it’s called an asthma attack.
Allergies, on the other hand, happen when your child’s immune system overreacts to a usually harmless trigger. The immune response can produce respiratory issues and other symptoms, and like allergies, they can range from a minor annoyance to a severe and dangerous problem. Each child has specific allergens they react to, which often include pollen, pet hair and dander, certain foods, or specific medications.
In some kids, allergies and asthma go hand-in-hand. They may have both conditions, for instance, and an allergic reaction may aggravate their asthma symptoms.
Symptoms to Look For
Allergies and asthma are often confused because they can produce similar symptoms. They can also be triggered by the same thing. Here are a few ways to tell if your child’s symptoms are coming from asthma or allergies:
- Asthma produces only respiratory issues, like wheezing, coughing, chest congestion, and limited breathing. Allergies may have these symptoms but they often also come with a runny nose or nasal congestion, sneezing, and fatigue. Allergies can produce hives and skin irritation as well.
- Keep a journal of when your child’s problems are at their worst. Asthma symptoms tend to be worse at night. Allergy symptoms, on the other hand, often change from one season to the next. If breathing problems appear after exercise, laughing, or crying, asthma is the most likely culprit, while symptoms that appear after playing with a pet, eating a certain food, or being outside are more likely to be allergy-related.
- If you’re not sure if your child has environmental pediatric allergies or asthma, consider his/her age. Kids rarely develop environmental allergies before age two, so if your baby is wheezing or having trouble breathing, asthma is probably the issue.
- Analyze your family history. Asthma and some allergies tend to run in families, so your own medical history and your family’s history can offer some clues.
If You Suspect Asthma or Allergies
While the tips above can offer some hints, it’s very important to seek a medical diagnosis from a qualified healthcare provider. Asthma and allergies are quite similar and both can be extremely serious if they are not treated appropriately or if you don’t have the right medication available in an emergency. It’s great to come into the pediatrician’s office with an idea about what may be wrong, but getting a true diagnosis and treatment is crucial.
Our experienced pediatricians can typically diagnose asthma in the office. But kids with severe symptoms may be referred to a pediatric pulmonary specialist who can perform tests to measure lung function and evaluate their response to medications. For allergies, if there are certain allergens that you suspect, skin allergy tests and blood tests are strong diagnostic tools. In some cases, the best way to confirm a diagnosis is to treat one problem and see if it gets better. If this is the route your doctor recommends, just remember to pay close attention to your child’s symptoms to see if they improve.
Keeping your kids healthy involves a team effort between all their parents, caregivers, and doctors. As a parent, make sure your kids’ sitters, teachers, and other caregivers are observing your child as well and will let you know if they notice anything new or concerning. Both allergies and asthma can sometimes produce serious problems, but they can also be well-managed with the right treatment. If you think your kids may have allergies or asthma, schedule a pediatrician appointment to find the answer. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ as well for more kids health tips.
August 31, 2017 11:44 am
Asthma is a very common childhood illness, but that doesn’t make it any less scary for a patient and their parents. Any condition that affects your child’s ability to breathe can be highly stressful. That’s why, as a parent, you’ll want to know the basics about asthma, so you can recognize symptoms if they appear, know how to help your child maintain healthier breathing, and rest easy knowing that your child’s asthma is well controlled. To this end, our board-certified pediatricians and nurse practitioners at Children’s Wellness Center are here to offer you some helpful insight.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a condition that causes your airway to be both inflamed and constricted, leaving less room for air to pass through. Certain triggers (like illness, allergens, pollutants, and exercise) can also make the symptoms worse and quickly constrict the airways even further. The severity will vary, but these triggers can bring on an asthma attack which can limit breathing to a dangerous level. Asthma may or may not get milder with age, but regardless, the symptoms are very treatable and controllable with the right medicines. In other words, while you should take your child’s asthma seriously and stay on top of their medications, you don’t need to be in constant fear for their safety.
How is Asthma Treated?
Asthma is primarily treated with inhaled medications because this delivers the medicine directly to the airways. There are two categories of asthma medicines: long-term and short-term. Long-term medications are taken on a daily basis to keep your child’s symptoms under control, while short-term medicines are only to be taken when your child is having an asthma attack. The purpose of the long-term medications is to limit the number of times you need to use the short-term ones, but it’s always best to have your child’s short-term medicine available in case of an emergency.
There are a few different ways asthma medication can be used. Most parents have heard about inhalers, and they come in two forms: metered-dose inhalers (MDIs) and dry powder inhalers (DPIs). MDIs are the most common type, and they are used with a valve-holding chamber, commonly called a spacer. Using a spacer is recommended for all ages, as studies show even older children and adults will get 20-30% more medicine delivered to their lungs if a spacer is used. DPIs are not recommended for young children as they require some degree of motor control and cannot be used with a spacer. For young children, a nebulizer might be used. This product converts liquid medication into a mist that kids can inhale through a mask or mouthpiece.
What to Do if You Think Your Child Has Asthma
As a parent, there are a few signs you should look for in your kids:
- Frequent dry coughing, especially at night
- Frequent wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest congestion
- Difficulty recovering from respiratory illnesses
- Frequent dry coughing in children after or during exercise, laughing, or crying
If you’re concerned that your child might have asthma, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician. We’ll gather information and evaluate your child to determine if your child has asthma. In some cases, the best way to diagnose asthma is simply to start treating it and see if your child improves. When we reach a diagnosis, we’ll be able to categorize your child’s condition as intermittent asthma (with symptoms happening only rarely), mild persistent asthma, moderate persistent asthma, or severe persistent asthma. This will help us determine the best medications for your child.
Tips for Managing Your Child’s Asthma
If your child is diagnosed with asthma, you will be given instructions about how to manage their condition, but here are a few more helpful tips:
- Follow all medication instructions carefully, and teach your child how to do the same, because you may not be there every time he/she needs medicine.
- Inform all of your child’s coaches, teachers, group leaders, child care professionals, babysitters, and anyone else who cares for him/her. Tell them your child’s asthma diagnosis, explain the signs of a potential asthma attack (especially coughing), and instruct them about what to do in that situation.
- Have an open line of communication with your child’s school, and use it well. Make sure all the proper consent forms are in place for your child to be able to have his/her medication at school, and find out what your child needs to do to access the medicine and explain it to him/her.
- Find out which specific triggers make your child’s asthma symptoms worse. The most common ones includeillness, allergens (pollen, mold, dust, animal dander), air pollution, cigarette smoke, chemical deodorizers (like scented cleaning products and air fresheners), exercise, and stress. Take steps to minimize the presence of these triggers in your home.
An asthma diagnosis can be understandably stressful for any parent because, after all, you just want your child to be happy and healthy. Fortunately, asthma is a very manageable condition, so kids with asthma typically lead very normal, healthy lives, and so can you. If you think your child might have asthma or if his/her asthma is not well-controlled, schedule an appointment with us. For more tips about asthma and other aspects of pediatric health, follow Children’s Wellness Center on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
November 10, 2016 11:21 am
Here at Children’s Wellness Center (CWC), we take great joy in sharing our expertise with the world. As parents ourselves, we understand that parents with young kids have plenty of questions; after all, there is a lot to know. That’s why we’re always happy to take a few minutes to answer some common questions we receive in regards to health and wellness for young children.
We take immense pride in establishing long-standing, personal relationships with our patients and their families through a combination of trust, accountability and experience. So with that said, here are some questions we receive on a fairly regular basis as well as some answers that we hope will be helpful:
Dear CWC: When can my child return to school after an ear infection?
A.) This can be a judgment call for parents. Ear infections are not contagious so you do not need to worry about your child potentially infecting his or her classmates. As long as kids are feeling well enough to resume their normal school activities and their fever has been gone for at least 24 hours (without the use of Tylenol or ibuprofen), it is safe for them to head back to school. Just communicate with your kids to ensure symptoms are not recurring.
Dear CWC: What can I do at home to help control my child’s asthma?
A.) There are a number of steps you can take to help reduce your child’s asthma symptoms in the house. Reducing your child’s exposure to items that can trigger asthma symptoms (like dust or mold) can help reduce flare ups. Dust mite covers and hypoallergenic bedding can be good ways of control dust mites. Additionally, certain pets in the home can also provide difficulties for kids with asthma. Consult your child’s healthcare provider before committing to a pet or if you already have a pet in the home that could pose potential issues. You may also want to consider asthma-safe pets like fish.
Dear CWC: Can drinking fruit juice provide the same nutritional value for my kids as actually eating fruit?
A.) Unfortunately not. Kids love fruit juice due to the sweet taste, but fruit juices don’t have the fiber and other essential nutrients kids get from eating fruit. In fact, many fruit juices can actually lead to health problems like poor nutrition, obesity and tooth decay due to high levels of sugar. According to recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids between 1 and 6 years of age should be limited to 4-6 ounces maximum of fruit juice per day. Kids above the age of 6 should be limited to a maximum of between 8-12 ounces daily.
When it comes to the health and wellness of your kids, there is no such thing as an unimportant question. Each month we host Children’s Wellness Center Meet & Greet events where we invite new and expectant parents to meet with our providers. These events are a great way to get a better feel for who we are, what we do, and how our practice can help provide your family with quality healthcare you can depend on. If you’re interested in learning more, you can always contact Children’s Wellness Center at 404-303-1314.
November 4, 2016 1:30 pm
Getting daily exercise and staying active is very important for the health of young kids. Plus, what kid doesn’t love running around and playing with their friends after school? That’s why asthma can be so tough on kids and parents. As a parent, you want your child to be able to participate in sports and outdoor exercise, but you also don’t want to subject them to the potential risks of an asthma attack.
Unfortunately, asthma attacks can be triggered by exercise. Exercise-induced asthma (when asthma symptoms occur shortly after exercise) is common for kids. If your child experiences symptoms of asthma during exercise (more than once in a blue moon) he or she may be dealing with poorly controlled asthma. Exercise is generally good for the lungs, but physical exertion can cause your child’s airways to lose heat and moisture, especially in cold and dry weather. This can irritate the bronchial tubes and lead to an attack.
According to research performed by experts at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, roughly 20% of kids with asthma don’t get the recommended amount of daily exercise. While parents are right to try to keep their kids safe, with the right treatment and precautions most children with asthma can safely enjoy sports and athletic exercise like anyone else. To remedy some concerns you may have, we’ve provided some handy advice on how to keep asthmatic kids safe while playing outside.
Here are a few tips:
- Kids should always keep an inhaler handy while exercising
- Taking a couple puffs from an inhaler 15 minutes before exercising (if recommended by your child’s doctor can help prevent exercise-induced asthma symptoms
- Inform coaches and teachers of your child’s asthma and make sure they know what to do in the case of an attack
- Instruct kids to take a break from exercising if they begin to feel asthma symptoms coming on
- Wearing a scarf or cloth to cover the nose and mouth when exercising outdoors in cold weather can help
Some activities are better than others for kids with asthma. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommend sports that involve short bursts of exertion like baseball, golf and biking as opposed to more physically demanding sports like soccer or basketball. If you still have questions, you can always speak to any of our health care professionals at Children’s Wellness Center. To set up an appointment, please contact Children’s Wellness Center today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for more news, tips and updates.