Why do people not take seriously a diagnosis of asthma? That is a question I ask myself every day. As a nationally certified asthma educator, I am constantly searching for the answer. Of course, the answer is as varied as the children and families I teach.
Truth No. 1: It could be a cold, but it could also be asthma
Many parents take their child to a doctor, immediate care center or emergency department thinking their child just has a really bad cold or allergies. It’s sometimes hard to know the difference. The other side of the coin is that a cold, upper airway virus or allergy has triggered an asthma attack.
Asthma is an over-reactivity of the airways. The airways swell on the inside and produce extra mucus. The muscles around the airways tighten and greatly reduce airflow through the lungs. It may make your child cough, wheeze and or have difficulty breathing.
Truth No. 2: Asthma is sneaky
The majority of the time we can reverse an asthma attack and your child gets better. But that is the sneaky part about asthma. Families think asthma is only the noisy, wheezing breathing. The itchy, twitchy over-reactivity of the airways is always lurking, ready to flare again.
Many children with asthma need help to keep the airways clear. This can include a daily medication to help control the swelling of the airways, which allows the child to lead a more normal, active life.
Truth No. 3: Asthma is nothing to wheeze at
Asthma can be very dangerous. In fact, we see more hospitalizations at Norton Children’s Hospital for asthma than for any other thing. But asthma is very treatable and manageable — if your child takes the medication and follows medical instructions.