Ask the Docs: Your Questions Answered About Asthma

By on Oct 25, 2016

CareConnection: Why is there an increase in asthma attacks in the fall and winter?

Dr. Charniga: Fall and winter are typically the worst seasons for children with asthma because they are exposed to more triggers. Viral infections generally increase with cooler weather, and many school-age children are in close quarters with other children who may have a respiratory virus. 

CareConnection: How do I know if my child is having an asthma attack?

Dr. Charniga: Pay attention to your child's breathing. Very hard or fast breathing, sucking in the stomach or ribs in order to breathe, or breathing so hard that walking and speaking is impossible means they may be having an attack and you should call 911 immediately. It's important to work with your child's doctor to develop a plan for control so you can work towards preventing severe attacks.

CareConnection: What type of doctor should you choose to treat pediatric asthma?

Dr. Charniga: Your pediatrician should work with you and your child to develop a plan that controls your child's asthma. This means identifying triggers and prescribing medication that eliminates symptoms, meaning no coughing, wheezing, or visits to the emergency room and no limitations to play time. If your pediatrician is not meeting your child's needs, you may want to get a referral for a pediatric pulmonologist or a pediatric allergist.


CareConnection: Is it possible to cure asthma?

Dr. Lyons: The short answer is no, but we are always learning more about different areas of the condition to try and isolate what the root cause is. If someone is claiming they no longer have asthma, they may be experiencing a quiet time, in which they haven’t seen an attack in a long period of time. Asthma symptoms can come back at any time, so it is important to never stop taking your medication unless instructed to by your doctor.

CareConnection: Is it safe for people with asthma to get a flu shot?

Dr. Lyons: Flu shots are not only safe for everyone, it is recommended that everyone over the age of six months get a shot to reduce the chances of having the flu. Because both asthma and the flu are respiratory conditions, people with asthma may experience more frequent and severe asthma attacks if they get the flu. If you have asthma, it is important that you get a shot instead of the nasal spray because it could trigger an attack.

CareConnection: If I get a cold, can I take over-the-counter medication for it?

Dr. Lyons: If you have asthma, you need to be extra careful when taking over the counter medications because they can negatively interact with asthma medication. Decongestants, for instance, can cause heart palpitations when used with bronchodilators. There are also studies showing cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine could trigger asthma symptoms because it dries the nasal passages. If you do get a cold, talk to your doctor about which over-the-counter medication you can take to relieve your symptoms.