Dr. Donald Levy, Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, Orange County Ca

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Office Location
705 W. La Veta Ave.
Suite 101
Orange, CA 92868
(714) 639-7847


From Medem's Editor-in-Chief:
Active Asthma Management Key to Normal Life

In the mid-1990s, my husband was working as a teacher in the local high school of a small Texas town. One day, he came home with the heartbreaking news that a student had died of an asthma attack.

I remember thinking, "In this day and age, when there are so many advancements in modern medicine, how tragic it is for a child to die from asthma!"

But the truth of the matter is, while advances in modern medicine can help us to control asthma, it is a chronic illness that requires active management. A child with asthma can live a normal and fulfilling life, but support and guidance from parents, in partnership with their child's pediatrician and/or allergist, play a key role in this success.

There are currently 4.8 million children under the age of 18 who have asthma. The number of people diagnosed with the disease is on the rise — across all age groups and ethnicities. And with this increase of prevalence, we also have seen an increase in the severity and number of attacks and fatalities.

There are many potential reasons for the rise in respiratory disease. Increased smog, exposure to secondhand smoke, industrial pollution, indoor pollution — they all play their part. And while some environmental pollutants are hard to control in our everyday lives — there are an amazing number of asthma triggers that can be managed.

Finding what triggers your child's asthma is one of the most important steps in prevention. Allergies are the most common trigger (pollen, house-dust mites, pet dander, mold, latex and food) — responsible for 70 percent to 80 percent of asthma cases. Pinpointing what your child is allergic to will allow him or her to avoid this substance. Allergy testing can be done in your pediatrician's or allergist's office. Studies have shown that the elimination of household allergens, as well as pollutants (such as a gas stove or oven or chemical fumes) can measurably reduce asthma symptoms in children.

Identifying and treating an asthma attack before it reaches its peak is an equally important step. Know the signs and symptoms of your child's illness. Work with your child's doctor to have a management plan, as well as an emergency plan in place. Share this plan with teachers, coaches, school and child-care personnel, siblings and baby sitters.

During an asthma attack, the airways narrow, slowing the rate that air is able to leave the body. Using a peak flow meter to keep a daily record of your child's breathing capacity will allow you to monitor asthma triggers, as well as severity. A peak flow meter is a hand-held device that can measure your child's ability to expel air from their lungs. Children as young as 3 years old can learn to use one.

A color-coded system can help your child to interpret peak flow meter results. With your child's pediatrician and/or allergist, identify the following ranges:


  • Green = Everything is great; keep up the current management.
  • Yellow = My asthma is worsening; I need to start medication change and possibly stay indoors for a time.
  • Red = I need to take my rescue medication and see my doctor or go to the emergency department.

Make sure that your child takes any asthma medications as prescribed by the pediatrician or allergist. Although parents often worry about their children taking prescription medications on a regular basis, asthma that goes untreated can cause irreversible damage to the lungs. If the doctor has prescribed a quick-relief inhaler, make sure that your child has access to it at all times.

Talking openly with your child can be of immense help, too. Discussing asthma before and after an attack can help your child work through some of the emotions that this condition can bring on, as well as identify triggers and the need for medication. Make sure that your child knows that they did not do anything to cause their condition, and encourage them to take an active role in their treatment.

Last, but not least, our children take their cues from us. Your reactions and actions around an asthma attack will help your child learn how to handle such situations and how to conceptualize their condition. Asthma, like diabetes, can be controlled. With management, your child can enjoy an active and healthy life.


Nancy W. Dickey, M.D.

©Copyright 2000 Medem


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