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Children with Asthma: June 1, 2011

It’s not just child’s play. A growing number of children in this country are being diagnosed with asthma.

“They're saying now, that three of 30 kids in the classroom have asthma,” says Teresa Summe, coordinator of the asthma health management program at Lee Memorial Health System.

Asthma is a potentially life-threatening lung disease that inflames and constricts the small airway, making it hard to breathe.

“It’s a problem that sometimes being overlooked by the family,” says critical care pediatrician Dr. Alex Danesmand.  “Kids may have several signs and symptoms that are missed and they're coming in with difficulty in breathing to  our emergency rooms.”

Educating the family, including the child is extremely important.

“We originally started seeing children five and up,” Summe says.  “Then we realized with the rise of asthma we definitely need to be teaching all ages.” 

Knowing the signs and symptoms of asthma is the first step.

“Cough is the number one symptom of asthma, a child being overtired, shortness of breath. A lot of children will say they have chest tightness,” says Summe.

Also important, is recognizing things that might trigger an attack.

Changes in season are known to trigger asthma episodes because of an increase in pollen. Especially light, dry pollens found in trees, grass and weeds, because they tend to get airborne.

“Younger children tend to be more susceptible because their airways are smaller,” says Summe. “Their immune systems are not as developed.”

A new study shows one in three asthmatics haven’t been taught how to respond to an attack. Making it especially important to begin early education.