July 18, 2012

A Fish Out of Water

That’s what a child suffering from asthma feels like: a fish out of water. Just the sight of one of those little scaly pets flat on the floor, gasping for breath, brings out some scary feelings. Nothing scares a parent more than seeing their son or daughter fighting hard to take a breath. Childhood asthma isn’t just a condition; it’s a real death threat.

But there are medical ways to treat it. And it’s important to point them out specifically for children, as some medications might have adverse effects.

For mild asthma symptoms, a standard bronchodilator works well. However, when dealing with heavier symptoms, especially given the heavier they are the more life threatening, daily anti-inflammatory medication is absolutely necessary. If symptoms do get that serious, probably the top medication available is Advair, which is your typical adult asthma medication, but at small doses can benefit children. It is both an anti-inflammatory and steroid, combining two powerful medicines together. Some children may react adversely to it, though; which that presents the necessity for what is known as a Pulmicort Respules, recently approved for children of ages 12 months and up.

There is also an issue with ease of use. Most children have trouble using inhalers due to the nature of their use; measured breathing is a skill often learned later. Hence the reason for what is called a “nebulizer”, a machine designed to deliver doses of a substance that actually opens up the airways called “albuterol” through regular breathing. The child wears a breathing mask, basically, taking the need for measured breathing out of the equation. While they’re easy for children, their ability to work on the fly presents a small inconvenience; you can’t exactly take a nebulizer with you on a bike ride. Nevertheless, their purpose is important.

Consider your options, and as always consult your doctor for more advice on some of the medications to prescribe your child.