There are a variety of ways a general practitioner can help with asthma management, especially in younger patients. For the youngest sufferers, their parents can receive guidance from an experienced healthcare provider so they can keep their child’s symptoms under control. This involves having any flare-ups of the disease held to a minimum.
All parents who have children with asthma should have a course of action that is doctor-prescribed to manage the symptoms and sudden attacks.
There are a few different parts of the plan that are most important:
- A list of the child’s asthma triggers
- A list of medicines and proper dosages
- Watching for symptoms like trouble breathing or wheezing
- A list of telephone contacts in case of an emergency
There are also several factors that can determine exactly how long it takes to get the asthma under control:
- How severe the symptoms are
- How often the flare-ups are taking place
- The age of the child
- The execution of a doctor’s treatment plan and how well it is being followed
There are breathing tools and tests that can help the healthcare provider get a real handle on what’s going on with a child’s lungs. This can help doctors keep a watch on when an asthma issue is most likely to occur.
The main tools for helping with asthma management are a spirometer, which is at the doctor’s office, and a peak flow meter, which can be used at home or at school.
Here is how they work:
- Spirometer: This is a computerized apparatus that measures exactly how much air is exhaled or inhaled each time a breath is drawn. It also records the exact length of the breath and the time needed for the breath to be taken.
- Peak Flow meter: This is a much smaller, hand-held device that is especially designed to record breathing ability at home. When the peak flow readings begin to lower, everyone reading the meter knows the airways in the lungs are becoming inflamed and starting to close up, which is the direct cause of an asthma-related issue. The peak flow meter is also designed to pick up any small inflammation and/or obstruction — even if the child is feeling no effects. It has also been known to detect an incoming drop in the readings, sometimes a couple of days before the flare-up happens, allowing time for prevention and treatment.
Doctors will work with younger patients and their parents to first see if a peak meter flow can help. Then they can hold a series of peak flow readings so they know exactly what the child’s peak expiratory flow rating is when they are going through a period with little to no symptoms of the disease. This provides a baseline rating that will help the doctor with recommendations for further treatment.
Asthma is Not Going Away
Unfortunately, for asthma patients at this time, there is no cure for the disease. If a person has asthma, then the airways in their lungs are always inflamed. But once it is diagnosed properly and a treatment plan is put together, persons with asthma can manage their condition and improve their quality of life.
Asthma is a fairly-common lung disease that is also known as reactive airway disease. The most common symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing and a tightening of the chest. Persons with a family history of asthma are more likely to develop the disease.
Physical activity is known to be a cause for an asthma flare-up, but exercise is highly-recommended, so it’s important to work with the general practitioner to implement a plan for keeping their breathing and
symptoms under control when they are playing or participating in sports. This allows children to take part in normal daily activities.
For those that have ongoing issues, the severity of the asthma attacks can come down to two questions that the general practitioner will likely ask:
- Is the inhaler being used more than two times per week?
- Do the symptoms seem to be getting worse and more intense?
If a patient says yes to either or both of those questions, then they need to get their condition reevaluated to see if it may have worsened, or possibly have their dosages increased.
There are several goals regarding normalcy that asthma sufferers and their physician will work towards, including:
- Very few, if any at all, of the asthma symptoms occurring on a daily basis
- Getting rid of the symptoms that can cause the patient to wake up in the middle
of the night with an asthma-related issue
- Assuring that any issues do not keep the patient from going to school or being involved in normal daily activities
There are many triggers in the air and on the ground that can aggravate asthma-related conditions. These can all change depending on the time of year and the season. They can also change for children as they become older. Here are some of the things that can affect or worsen asthma-related
- Irritants like air fresheners, smoke, hair spray, perfumes and paint fumes
- Common food allergies
- Exercise that involves a lot of cardio work
- Breathing in very cold air
- Quick and sudden changes in weather temperatures
- Allergens such as dust, carpeting, pillows, pollen, grass and insects
Asthma flare-ups can be scary for both the patient and their parents, but asthma management is possible with the help of the family doctor. The condition is rather common and there are a variety of treatment options available. Speak with your healthcare professional to determine the best course of action for managing asthma.