New one-of-a-kind asthma program launches
Asthma now affects one in 10 children in the United States, a 12 percent increase during the past decade, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Although serious complications from asthma affect only a small number of children, these are the children with health care needs that require special attention,” says Dr. Javeed Akhter, section head of pediatric pulmonology, allergy and immunology at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Ill.
Without such attention, children with asthma in its severest forms often have to be hospitalized and can even die from the disease, Dr. Akhter emphasizes.
A new pilot asthma program has launched in Chicago and is considered to be one-of-a-kind. It will be dedicated to analyzing the growing asthma population and will concentrate on only those children who are most at risk from their asthma.
Because the causes of asthma are many and varied, the pilot program will take a multidisciplinary approach to treating the disease in its severest forms, Dr. Akhter says.
Air pollution, allergens, exercise, stress and certain chemicals can trigger the disease, which leads to a narrowing or blocking of the airways in the lungs, thereby making it hard for a patient to breathe. Other causes are more medical or social in nature.
“This multidisciplinary approach to treating children is important. To be most impactful, a treatment program must be equipped to identify and address the wide variety of factors that create challenges to the successful management of the condition,” says Dr. Gabrielle Roberts, a clinical psychologist, also at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn. “We just need to identify what the barriers are to the control of the condition in these children and try to address them.”
While asthma currently has no cure, most forms of the disease can be managed with proper medication and education. Learning to identify and eliminate any potential asthma triggers in a person’s environment is a critical first step in controlling the disease.
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