SAN ANTONIO — Asthma is a chronic lung disease that makes it more difficult to move air in and out of your lungs. It can be a life-threatening disease if not properly managed. 

"Pediatric asthma is an illness lifelong illness, so it can affect them starting when they are a child all the way through adulthood," said Dr. Mandie Svatek, an Associate Professor of Pediatrics with UT Health San Antonio. She also works with pediatric asthma patients within the University Health System. She said asthma is more difficult to diagnose in children. "It does take time to diagnose, depending upon how many symptoms they have and what's going on with it."

Some of the symptoms of childhood asthma include frequent coughing, shortness of breath, chest congestion or tightness, trouble breathing that can disrupt play or exercise, and fatigue due to poor sleep," Dr. Svatek said.
"Wheezing is another major symptom, but a lot of times we can't hear them wheeze when they are just walking around, but with my stethoscope I can hear them wheezing very well."

In the United States there are over six million children with asthma. That equates to about one in every 12 kids. Out of those diagnosed with asthma, between 38 and 50 percent are uncontrolled. "Uncontrolled means that we are not able to control their symptoms and we try to educate and try to give them the proper medication to help them," Dr. Svatek said.

Proper medication often means not just one, but two inhalers. "We have to put a lot of these patients on what's called a reliever medication such as albuterol, and a controller medication so we can help them control their symptoms," she said.

It's a lot for a child and even parent to keep up with, but with the right education and tools families as a whole can breathe easier.

For more information about family health call 210-358-3045. You can also find the rest of Wear The Gown stories, just go to WearTheGown.com.

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