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Kids' Asthma Out of Control

4 Out of 5 Kids With Asthma Don't Control Symptoms
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Pets and Asthma

Does this mean Fluffy and Fido must find a new home?

"That is a tough question," Halterman admits. "Some children are clearly allergic to pets. They would benefit. But others might not, so it takes treatment planning with your doctor."

Pediatric allergist Lisa Kobrynski, MD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at Atlanta's Emory University, agrees that the pet discussion is always a hard one for families of children with asthma.

One solution, she suggests, is keeping the pets outside. Some families try frequent washing, but Kobrynski notes that this means washing a dog or cat at least three times a week. And new research suggests that some pet allergens aren't from pet dander, but from pet saliva.

An allergist, Kobrynski suggests, can give a child a skin or blood test to see exactly which triggers are most important to avoid.

Asthma Control Key: Frequent Evaluation

Controlling a child's asthma, Halterman and Kobrynski stress, is not a simple matter. It requires collaboration between parents, the child, and the child's doctors.

The first step is reporting the child's symptoms to a doctor. The doctor then develops an individualized asthma-control plan, which often includes daily use of an inhaler and may require oral medications, too. Daily use of these drugs is essential. But taking medicine isn't the end of the job.

Avoiding asthma triggers is an essential component of asthma control. And asthma triggers are tricky -- new ones can pop up, and old ones may or may not go away.

"Asthma is not a static disease -- it changes over time," Kobrynski says. "Kids may develop new triggers, and their asthma may change -- it may become more severe. At least two or three times a year, they need re-evaluation to see if their treatment plan is adequate."

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