By Adem Lewis /

Thanks to Gerber for helping us with our kids’ nutritional journey. Busy parents everywhere
can breathe a little easier. But what about children who can’t breate that easily? Those
with chronic asthma or allergies. We can’t always protect our kids against environmental
triggers like pollen and dust and chemicals. So, what can we do? Access Health Correspondent,
Amber Milt, when on location to find out. Today, we’re raising awareness about chronic
asthma and the struggles many parents face in having to deal with this condition on a
daily basis. Let’s hear from a woman who knows about this condition all too well.
Personally, I’ve spent the last 15 years of my career, actually, in the space of allergy
and asthma. And I’m also the mother of five, four of whom have allergies and/or asthma.
There are actually 7 million American children that currently have a diagnosis of asthma,
and it’s the most common chronic childhood condition as well as one of the costliest.
On average, there are about 14 million missed school days each year attributed to asthma,
and that of course inhibits those parents from also attending work.
I’m here in New York City, a hot bed of potential environmental asthma triggers at Allergy and
Asthma Associates of Murray Hill to meet with Dr. Purvi Parikh, who treats hundreds of little
ones suffering from asthma and allergies each year.
Dr. Parikh, can you give us an overview of the different types of childhood asthma and
some of the traditional treatments? Childhood asthma comes in many forms. The
most common type in children is allergic asthma, whether it be dust or mold, pollen, cat, dog.
Sometimes even food can trigger it. Another very common type is a viral induced asthma
in children. So, things such as the common cold, the flu, or even some bacterial infections
can trigger it. Also, children are predisposed to exercise induced asthma. If the physical
exertion is heavy enough, that can also trigger symptoms in them, and then things as subtle
as weather changes or humidity can also get children into trouble with their asthma.
Traditional treatments are inhalers and controller medicines. Usually they contain a steroid,
but they may be a steroid plus another medication. When children are in more trouble, such as
when they have a flare up, they may need even heavier medications such as prednisone by
mouth or even IV steroids. Meet Josephine Melendez and her three and
a half year old daughter, Valerie. They’ve been seeing Dr. Purvi Parikh for six months
now and aren’t sure if the treatments are working.
We’ve been struggling for a very long time, since she was born six months with asthma
and chronic allergies. At first, I wasn’t sure with Valerie’s breathing that it was
asthma or allergies. It’s just that I had to literally keep a journal and actually write
down every movement since Valerie was six months.
Well, you know, I think that it’s always important first and foremost to have a conversation
with your physician about what’s going on in your environment, about what you’re seeing
with the symptoms, how they may be changing over time, keeping a diary of the symptoms
and when they seem to be worse or better is very important, so that you can have those
informed educated conversations with your clinician. And then once you have that, I
think it’s very important that you be tested to know exactly what your triggers are. We
always say avoidance is the best treatment for asthma if you can avoid those triggers.
But the truth is we don’t live in a bubble. So, there’s no way to completely avoid the
triggers. So, it’s a matter of how do you then also employ treatments like medications
most effectively to manage the symptoms. When you spray an inhaler in your mouth, part
of it does get wasted. So, you’re not really getting the full dose. An average person using
the best technique only gets 60% of their asthma medication with just the inhaler alone.
After I saw a specialist, she recommended a nebulizer machine that has a mask, and I
have to control a toddler, a growing toddler, to stay with the mask for 15 minutes until
the solution airs out or evaporates within her lungs. Now, that was challenging within
itself because, of course, this is all new to Valerie, and she’s like, “What is this?
What’s going on!?”. The machine is making noises. It was very time consuming with regular
growing toddler. She has to go to school. I have to go to work. It’s just definitely
not an option for me. Now another type of traditional medication
is a nebulizer machine which does help a little bit more because the steam kind of helps the
patient get the medicine in their lungs, but this is not very time efficient. So often
the nebulizer treatment can take up to 10 minutes, and generally our medicines need
to be used at least twice a day. So, as you can see, it can really eat into time and it
can also be difficult in young children to have them sit still for that long. A machine
can be scary for them. If you’re trying to give a toddler a nebulizer
treatment and use that mask, it’s intimidating. It’s scary for children.
I went back to Dr. Parikh, and I told her what was my issues, what was my concerns,
especially since I wasn’t feeling she was getting all her entire dosage. So, she had
recommended using an actual pump that came with like a child chamber.
The chamber helps increase lung deposition. So, that means more than 60% of the medicine
is actually reaching where it needs to go, especially into your smaller airways. The
mask, it’s very soft, it’s non-irritating to their face. The nice aspect for babies
is that there’s even a slot for a pacifier. This is so nice that you can even use it when
the child is sleeping, so that way the parent doesn’t have to worry about the child being
scared or fighting them off to even get the medication inside.
Using this chamber, it helps a lot and I see the results. And Valerie, I would have to
say, has gotten used to the whole chamber and the pump. She actually likes it. She reminds
me now. I’m very pleased with that. So, now with the InspiraChamber, it really
is a much more user-friendly product that allows families to administer the medication
without that fear. So it gives me peace of mind that the medication
that I’ve prescribed is actually reaching where it needs to go because then I can’t
make decisions on whether or not this is the right medication if I don’t know if the child
is actually receiving it or not. At Allergy and Asthma Network, we’re very
excited about new technologies, especially technologies that help families to have a
quality of life that they wouldn’t have otherwise. The network really focuses on how we can better
raise awareness of the conditions of allergy and asthma but also educate patients and families.
Our magazine, Allergy and Asthma Today, is a great resource for patient-friendly medically
accurate information. Also, our website, AllergyAsthmaNetwork.Org. So, we take medically accurate information
and bring it down to a very patient-friendly basis. It really is about feeling empowered
and not limiting your child’s activity because of asthma because the truth is, if a child’s
on the right medication and they’re well controlled, they should have no limitations to playing
outside, or playing a sport, swimming, doing everything every other child would like to
do without asthma. Now if your child has asthma, I want to share
these important resources with you once again. That’s InspiraChamber.Com and AllergyAsthmaNetwork.Org.
And, of course, you can always find more information including these resources by logging onto
our website at AccessHealth.TV. And don’t forget to check us out on Twitter and Facebook.
(music). Access Health

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