WEDNESDAY July 10, 2013 — Children, not their parents, should do most of the talking about their asthma symptoms when seeing an allergist, according to a new study.
Researchers looked at about 80 children with asthma and their parents. Although parents can provide useful information, it’s important for allergists to ask both parents and children about symptoms, activity limitations and use of medications to better understand and treat the child’s asthma, the researchers found.
The importance of listening to children with asthma is highlighted by the fact that they report having a better quality of life in terms of activity limitations than their parents believe, according to the study, which was published in the July issue of the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
“Our research shows that physicians should ask parents and children about the effects asthma is having on the child’s daily life,” said study lead author Margaret Burks, of the pediatrics department of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
“Parents can often think symptoms are better or worse than what the child is really experiencing, especially if they are not with their children all day,” Burks said in a news release from the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
Asthma is a serious condition that leads to more than 10.5 million missed school days a year, Dr. James Sublett, chairman of the college’s public relations committee, said in the news release. “It is important for children to tell their allergist about their symptoms so the best treatment can be provided and over-treating doesn’t occur,” he said.
The asthma experts list these five topics that children with asthma and their parents should discuss with their allergist:
- If a child can’t play sports or participate in gym class and recess activities. This can indicate that the asthma isn’t properly controlled. It’s also important to tell the allergist if a child can participate in physical activities because it shows the condition is well managed.
- When a child’s asthma symptoms get worse outside or at home. Sixty percent to 80 percent of children with asthma also have an allergy. If common allergens such as pollen, mold, dust and pet dander are triggering your child’s asthma symptoms, an allergist may include allergy shots (immunotherapy) as part of a treatment plan.
- If a child often feels sad or different from other kids because of asthma. Nearly half of children with asthma report feeling depressed or left out of activities because of their condition.
- If a child misses school because of asthma. Research shows that children under the care of a board-certified allergist see a 77 percent reduction in lost time from school.
- When a child’s asthma appears to have gone away. It’s important that a child carry and use their inhaler as prescribed, even if asthma symptoms aren’t bothersome. Although symptoms are controllable with the proper treatment, there isn’t a cure for asthma and it likely won’t disappear. An asthma attack can strike at any time.