Pediatrician Lisa Ryan, MD, answers 5 frequently asked questions about children's allergies.
Does children's asthma tend to worsen in the summer? Why or why not?
Asthma worsens when children are exposed to various triggers which cause their airways to tighten and make it difficult to breathe. Although, the mechanism is not known, hot humid air may act as a trigger. Pollen and mold counts may also increase during the summer which may also trigger asthma symptoms.
What do parents need to know about how climate and weather can affect their children's asthma?
It is very important for parents to be aware of early asthma symptoms and to frequently check their child for these symptoms and treat appropriately. It is also important for parents to work with their child’s pediatrician to be aware of asthma triggers and avoid them as much as possible.
If a child has not been diagnosed with asthma before, how do you distinguish between allergy symptoms and asthma, and when should a parent seek medical help for a child with symptoms?
Allergy symptoms generally include sneezing, red watery eyes, and a clear runny nose. Asthma symptoms involve cough, and difficulty breathing. Additionally, a child with asthma may have problems playing with peers, exercising or doing sports. It is important to seek medical care anytime you notice your child is having difficulty breathing, unable to do normal activities or has a constant cough but no runny nose. I always encourage my patients and their parents to call our office any time they have concerns.
Are there general things parents should do to help control their child's asthma during warmer weather?
Unless you find that the warm weather specifically triggers your child’s asthma, I would not recommend any changes to daily routines. For those children who have problems from warmer weather, it could be useful to stay inside more frequently, it would also be a good idea to talk to your pediatrician to see if daily medications would be helpful.
What is the most important thing people should know about this topic?Although asthma is a serious illness, it can be controlled through education and appropriate medication. Children with well controlled asthma lead normal lives and do not have to restrict their activities.
Lisa Ryan, MD, is a board-certified physician at Way To Grow Pediatrics. She can be reached at 636.344.2213.