Controlling pediatric asthma: End of school no time to forget about asthma
SAN ANTONIO (May 19, 2014) – While May is Asthma Awareness Month, it also marks the culmination of the school year for many San Antonio children. Parents and children are thinking less about schoolwork and more about fun in the sun.
However, Pamela R. Wood, a pediatrician with UT Kids San Antonio, said May is the perfect time for parents to schedule annual asthma appointments with their children’s doctor.
“As the summer begins, many parents do not remember to schedule their child’s asthma appointment because their asthma symptoms usually lessen in the summer months. Some children do so well in the summer that they don’t have to use their asthma medications. Symptoms are usually worse in the fall and winter months. Infections, such a cold, are the major asthma triggers,” she said.
Asthma is a chronic disease that inflames and narrows the airways of the lungs. Symptoms are wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6.8 million children in the United States have asthma. The prevalence is higher in poor children.
“By seeing the doctor during the summer, the doctor and parents will be able to make a new written asthma action plan, get prescriptions for all medicines, and make sure they have a spacer for school and a spacer for home,” Dr. Wood said.
The spacer is a plastic device with one end for connecting the inhaler and the other end for the child’s mouth. The medicine goes in the spacer tube first, and then the child breathes it in over a brief period of time. The spacer increases the disposition of medicine into the lungs, she said. “It is imperative children have one at school and one at home.”
Dr. Wood stressed the importance of creating a new written asthma action plan, which is a one-page form she helped develop that is used citywide. The asthma action plan outlines the medication needed during three stages: daily preventative medicine when no symptoms are present, quick-relief medicine needed when an asthma attack is underway, and emergency medicine needed when the asthma attack has become dangerous and a trip to the doctor’s office or emergency room also is required.
“Most school districts do not honor the asthma action plan from the previous year. They will want the student to return to school with a current action plan,” she said. “If the parents, school and student follow the action plan, asthma can be controlled. Our goal is to keep children from ending up in the doctor’s office or the hospital. We want to keep them well and attending school.”
UT Kids San Antonio is the academic pediatric practice of the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. For more information about UT Kids San Antonio, visit UTKids.org. Patients are seen in clinics in the University Health System. UT Kids pediatric pulmonologists and allergists see patients downtown at the Robert B. Green Campus. For an appointment, call 210-358-5437.
UT Medicine San Antonio is the clinical practice of the School of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio. With more than 700 doctors – all School of Medicine faculty – UT Medicine is the largest medical practice in Central and South Texas. Expertise is in more than 100 medical specialties and subspecialties. Primary care doctors and specialists see patients in private practice at UT Medicine’s flagship clinical home, the Medical Arts & Research Center (MARC), located at 8300 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio 78229. Most major health plans are accepted, and UT Medicine physicians also practice at several local and regional hospitals. Call (210) 450-9000 to schedule an appointment, or visit www.UTMedicine.org for a list of clinics and phone numbers.