Kids Health Matters: Asthma

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Early control of asthma can make a difference for a child's future health.

Denise McNeil's daughters can be playful, but when it comes to controlling asthma, this family is all business.

Elder daughter Aisha developed it when she was 2 years old.

Denise says, "For two months, she had cold symptoms, running nose, and coughing. Eventually, she started the wheezing."

Daughter Alia has asthma, too.

Fortunately, Denise is in Children's Hospital's Community Asthma Prevention Program, which addresses Philadelphia's serious problem.

Dr. Tyra Bryant Stephens of Children's Hospital says, "At least one out of 4 children have asthma, and in some areas, like 19139, where we are, upwards of 30%."

Stephens says the program educates and supports both patients and their caregivers. They learn about their asthma triggers, even getting home visits to identify culprits.

"Be mindful of dust," said Denise. "Cleaners could be a trigger, so they gave me an idea what kind of cleaning products could be used."

Aisha said, "I have seasonal allergies, and sometimes pollen and stuff can trigger my asthma."

Families also learn about important tools to keep asthma under control.

"This is her controller, that she takes every day, twice a day," said Denise.

"That controls the underlying process in the airways," added Stephens.

"And this is her albuterol that she takes as needed, when there's a flare-up," said Denise.

Families also need to watch outdoor air conditions, especially in summer.

Thanks to the prevention program, Aisha doesn't hold back on activities.

She says, "I like to swim, I like to dance."

"We can go a month without a flare-up," said Denise.

Some parents like to take asthma medication "vacations" in summer.

But Dr. Bryant Stephens says kids need controllers year-round.
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