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Asthma Not Off for the Summer, So Neither Should Your Medicine Be

It can be difficult for parents of children with chronic health conditions to remain vigilant about medicating their child, especially if the child does not seem to be exhibiting any visible symptoms. However, doctors are cautioning parents of children with asthma that it is critical to not let up their guard when it comes to dispensing critical medication.

It is a common mistake that even the best parent can make — letting inhalers expire, forgetting to fill prescriptions, and more. But it is these seemingly innocuous slip-ups that can land kids in the emergency room with breathing complications. The most common time of the year that parents let their guard down is during the summer when allergen levels are low and families are not regimented by school-year routines. It is critical for parents of asthma sufferers to remember that just because their children are on summer vacation, it does not necessarily mean that asthma also got the memo about taking time off.

Regardless of whether your child uses controller medications or just rescue medications, the ultimate goal is to prevent and reduce issues that can send kids to the hospital with acute symptoms. Dr. Heather Hoch, a pediatric pulmonologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, warns that repeated acute incidents can cause serious lung damage over time.

Hoch released her research findings at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in May, demonstrating that young children under the age of four and children from poor backgrounds were most at risk to developing decreased lung function if their medicines were not kept current. Hoch and her colleagues also found that a history of exacerbations was one of the most reliable predictors of future acute incidents. Specific triggers including smoke, pet allergens, and exposure to viral infections also were significant predictors of future exacerbations. But the most important preventative measure is the proper and timely use of prescribed medicine, adding credence to the idea that even during the “slow” summer season, asthma-sufferers need to be vigilant about staying on top of their medicine regiment.

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