Doctors Notes:


Jacquelyn Kiefer

Do you ever worry that your child has a frequent cough, wakes up at night with a cough, has trouble breathing or has trouble exercising because they can’t breathe?  If your child has any of these symptoms more than twice a week during the day (or twice a month with night time symptoms) they may have asthma.

Asthma is a common, chronic respiratory disease that affects seven million children in the United States.

When children have asthma they experience airway inflammation which causes swelling and excess mucus in the airway. They also experience airway constriction and tightening of the muscles around the airways.

Symptoms of asthma include: Wheezing or noisy breathing, coughing (often at night or in the early morning), chest tightness or trouble breathing with activity.

Identifying and managing asthma triggers is an important part of asthma management. Some triggers such as viral respiratory infections, physical activity and extreme emotions cannot be easily avoided. With triggers such as smoke exposure and environmental allergens, steps can be taken to avoid or manage the trigger.

There are different types of medicine that can be used to treat asthma. Asthma medications work in one of two ways. Your health care provider will discuss which medications are best for your child.

  • Quick-relief medicines start to work quickly as they relax the muscles that surround airways. Your provider will prescribe this medicine to be used when your child has an asthma flare and it is also used before exercise for some children.
  • Long-term controller medicines help relieve inflammation inside the airways. These medicines are usually taken on a daily basis.

If your child is diagnosed with asthma it is important to have regular visits with your health care provider to assess and manage their respiratory function. Lung function tests can be performed after a child is over the age of six to monitor lung function over time. This test also helps determine which therapy is best indicated for your child. Lung function testing is available at Holland Pediatrics.

An Asthma Action Plan will be developed for your child by your provider at Holland Pediatrics based on your child’s history, exam and other testing. And remember: it is especially important for a child with asthma to receive an annual flu vaccine.

The goals of asthma therapy will be decided between you and your child’s health care provider. It is our hope that your child can run and play and attend school like other children his or her age!