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Taking Action Against Childhood Asthma

Parents can arm kids to fight the condition and win

FRIDAY, May 13, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Parents play a crucial role in helping to keep a child's asthma under control, according to experts at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

There are more than 20 million people in the United States with asthma, and 9 million of these are younger than 18 years old, the group says. But, the AAAAI advises, asthma specialists can help parents grapple with the illness.

"For many families, the learning process is the hardest part of controlling asthma. Once parents start to ask questions and get a better understanding of their child's condition, they discover their child can live a healthy and happy life with asthma," Dr. Jacqueline Pongracic, of Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, and a fellow of the AAAAI, said in a prepared statement.

The AAAAI offers parents the following checklist to use during their next visit with their child's asthma specialist:

  • Ask about measures that can make a home a better environment for an asthmatic child. Most children with asthma also have allergies that make symptoms worse. It's important to provide these children with an allergen-free environment.
  • Work with an asthma specialist to create a daily management plan, which describes regular medications and steps to keep the disease under control.
  • Ask for a peak flow meter -- an instrument that measures airflow when air is blown into the device quickly and forcefully. The use of peak flow meters at home can help guide decisions about when medication doses need to be increased or decreased and when to call a doctor or seek immediate care.
  • Request a demonstration on how to properly use an inhaler.
  • Discuss creating an asthma action plan that outlines measures that should be taken when a child's asthma worsens.

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness month.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about childhood asthma.

SOURCE: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, news release, May 2, 2005
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