Monday, January 26, 2015

2Min Tuesday: Asthma & Coughing



Welcome to today's Two minute Tuesday, brought to you by Chad Rudnick, M.D. and Boca VIPediatrics!  Join us for two minutes as we interview some of the top experts in pediatrics & parenting. 





In today's segment, we welcome Dr. Ajay Kasi of the Children's Hospital Los Angeles division of pediatric pulmonology. During cold/flu season, coughs are often the concern of many parents. Learn when to be concerned about a cough, the facts about asthma, and how to reduce allergens in your home. 


      Many children will have wheezing when they get a common cold during their infant or toddler years. Does this mean that they will have asthma?

      Dr. Kasi:  Wheezing does not always imply asthma. Wheezing is a whistling noise made during breathing. Viral respiratory infections (such as the common cold) can cause wheezing in healthy infants and toddlers even without asthma. Research studies done in children have shown that wheezing is commonly seen in preschool children and most of these children will not develop asthma.

 What is asthma and if a child has asthma, will they have symptoms forever?

Dr. Kasi: Asthma is caused by inflammation in the air passages in the lungs. When a child with asthma is exposed to allergens (allergy causing substances) or gets a respiratory infection, it can cause coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Asthma symptoms can start in early childhood and can disappear for some in their teenage years or as young adults. For others, symptoms may go away for a while and return a few years later. But some children, especially those with severe asthma may not outgrow it and can have asthma as adults.

It is important to promptly diagnose asthma so that your pediatrician can work with you and your child to keep the symptoms under control and prevent damage to the growing lungs.


        What is sleep apnea and what are signs that a child may need an evaluation for sleep apnea?

Dr. Kasi: Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder when a child’s breathing becomes partially or completely blocked repeatedly during sleep. In children, it is mostly due to enlarged tonsils, adenoids and obesity. Children with obstructive sleep apnea can have snoring, periods of not breathing, and restlessness during sleep and can make gasping or snorting noises during sleep. They can also be very drowsy during the day and can have behavioral problems like hyperactivity, difficulty paying attention and learning problems.
It is important to discuss your child’s sleep habits with your pediatrician so that appropriate testing can be done and early treatment is initiated.

What are some asthma triggers and how can I best avoid them?

Dr. Kasi: Most of my patients with asthma ask me about the common asthma triggers and how to avoid them. Asthma triggers are allergens or irritants in the environment that can cause asthma symptoms. It is important to identify what those common triggers are and how to avoid exposure to them as much as possible. Common asthma triggers are viral respiratory infections, pollen, dust mite, cockroaches, pet dander, tobacco smoke, molds, and cold air. Each child may have different asthma triggers and it is important to identify these triggers when your child has frequent asthma symptoms. Some effective practices to prevent viral respiratory infections include good hand washing, avoiding contact with other kids who have respiratory infections and immunizing your child with the influenza vaccine. Other methods to reduce allergens and irritants in your home are using an air conditioner and air filtration devices to keep the indoor air clean, wash bedding, dust and vacuum regularly, and if possible to replace carpets with hard flooring. You should also bathe pets regularly and avoid exposure to tobacco smoke.
 

What is the biggest misconception that parents have about coughing?

Dr. Kasi: Most parents are concerned about asthma in their child who has a cough. While it is very important to diagnose asthma and start treatment, I tell my patients that not all children with cough have asthma. Coughing is a protective mechanism to keep the airways open and clear. Apart from asthma, coughing can occur from a variety of reasons like infections, allergy, stomach reflux, exposure to air pollution, and tobacco smoke.

Dr. Ajay Kasi is a board-certified pediatrician. Dr Kasi completed his pediatrics residency from Miami Children’s Hospital and is currently a Fellow in Pediatric Pulmonology at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He is a recipient of the Arturo J. Aballi Educational Award for academic achievements during residency. He has presented clinical posters in national and international conferences. His areas of clinical interest include asthma, sleep apnea, and cystic fibrosis.