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Montefiore in the News

May 26, 2022

By Laura A. Conrad, DO, Director of the Pediatric Asthma Center at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and Zoya Treyster, MD, Associate Director of the Pediatric Asthma Center at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore

HEALTH - May is Asthma Awareness month - a great time to increase awareness about the condition and an opportunity for parents of children with asthma to make sure they have checked in with their doctor about their child’s health. Asthma, one of the most common chronic diseases in children in the United States, is a disease of the lungs and is characterized by inflammation or swelling in the airways and recurrent episodes of narrowing of the airways leading to wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing.  

These recurrent episodes or “asthma attacks” can be triggered by a number of things, including the “common cold” or upper respiratory viral infections. Indoor environmental exposures in the home including dust and pests such as mice and cockroaches, mold, pets and secondhand smoke exposure can all trigger asthma attacks, as well as outdoor environmental triggers, for example, pollen and air pollution. 

Asthma is a serious disease that can be life threatening if it is not well controlled; therefore, it is important to know how to take care of your child’s asthma. Although asthma does not go away, the good news is that asthma can be managed, and asthma attacks are preventable. The best way to prevent asthma attacks is to have regular visits with your child’s doctor about their asthma, take asthma medications as prescribed by the doctor, and identify and avoid known asthma triggers. Every patient’s asthma can be different, which is why it is important to work with your child’s doctor to make the best asthma plan for your child. 

If caregivers feel their child’s asthma is poorly controlled and they would benefit from enhanced care, they can be referred to the Pediatric Asthma Center at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore. Patients who have benefited from our program usually have severe asthma, have had multiple admissions to the hospital or multiple emergency department visits requiring steroids by mouth. We also care for children who have poorly controlled asthma despite taking their medications as prescribed.

Our Pediatric Asthma Center offers a comprehensive evaluation for our patients with poorly controlled asthma. Over the course of three to four visits, patients will be seen by a pediatric lung specialist, a pediatric allergist, and our asthma educator. We work together to identify factors that are contributing to your child’s poor asthma control and develop personalized plans for each patient. Our thorough assessment includes lung function testing and allergy testing. We work with families to help identify potential environmental triggers for their child’s asthma symptoms. We review asthma education and how to take the asthma pumps the right way and can also refer families to community organizations to help with their asthma management. Our goal is to improve the quality of life for our patients and their families by reducing emergency department visits, reducing hospitalizations, and reducing the number of courses of oral steroids. This in turn prevents sleepless nights for patients and their families, improves a child’s physical activity, and prevents missed school days for our patients and missed workdays for their parents. 

While we focus on asthma in May, it is always the right time to talk to your child’s doctor about their asthma, to make sure their symptoms are well-controlled all year long so all children with asthma can live happy and healthy lives!