According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2009 1 in 10 children (10%) had asthma, and the number of children who are diagnosed a year continues to rise. Asthma is a chronic lung disease that plagues hundreds of thousands of people of different ages, race, and ethnicities. Asthma attacks can be life threatening if not immediately acted upon. Having an action plan is vital, especially for children.
Although extensive, action plans save lives, and it is vital parents, physicians and patients know what to do to manage asthma. Creating an action plan involves tracking symptoms, recording peak flow readings, judging asthma control, adjusting medication, recognizing and treating an asthma attack, knowing when to seek emergency care and avoiding triggers for asthma (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2012). This plan not only helps patients learn what triggers their asthma, it also helps them understand how to react during an asthma attack. These protocols are important for physicians and parents as well. Physicians are able to prescribe the best medication based on the patient’s symptoms and parents are able to understand the key signs that their children experience, and know when to seek medical care.
Why Are Peak Flow Readings Important?
Recording peak flow readings involves a device that measures how well the lungs are working. It is particularly helpful for understanding asthma because it can detect if the lungs aren’t working as well, which is usually a sign that the asthma is getting worse (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2012). Reporting minor symptoms is helpful for determining alternative treatment plans and adjusting the action plan as needed.
Treatment of Asthma
Unfortunately there is no cure for asthma, but the use of inhalers is the most effective treatment for asthma. Types of inhalers include metered-dose inhalers, metered-dose inhalers with a spacer, and dry powder inhalers. Nebulizers are a different form of inhaler and used primarily in infants and children, or those who cannot use regular inhalers. These devices contain anti-inflammatory medications that treat inflammation of the airways and help prevent future asthma attacks.
Inhaled medications include long-acting beta agonists, short-acting beta agonists, leukotriene modifiers, allergy shots and corticosteroids. Side effects include mouth and throat irritation, oral yeast infections, and long-term use of inhaled corticosteroids may slightly delay growth. For metered dose inhalers it is recommended that a spacer is used and that the patient rinse their mouth after with water after each use (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2012). Although each patient responds differently to medications, inhalers remain the most effective treatment of asthma.