LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - Asthma affects millions of Americans. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America says 6.2 million children under 18 have it. Doctor Anne Fernando, a pediatrician at Lawton Community Health Center, said it’s important to get asthma under control early rather than letting it get out of hand and having to go to the emergency room.
"We like to prevent as many episodes as possible because asthma is inflammation of mucus production in the lungs," Dr. Fernando said. "You want a young child's lungs to grow healthy, so in adulthood, they won't have problems with breathing."
Doctor Fernando said she thinks there might be more triggers for asthma in Oklahoma because of how many allergies there are in the state.
"If we prevent or identify what the allergens are, as a trigger, we can prevent the allergies by giving them allergy medications, allergy shots, not going into those certain areas that there are outside allergens," Dr. Fernando said. " If there are inside allergens, we can control the dust mites."
She says you can prevent it indoors by vacuuming twice a day, using sheets that are allergen-proof, and washing sheets every two weeks in hot water. Dr. Fernando said being around someone smoking can be another trigger. She said the smoke gets into the kid's small lungs.
"Which is counteractive to the medicines we give," she said. "We give medicines to relax the small muscle in the airwave of the lungs. So, the child is able to breathe better and more oxygen can be carried. However, smoking just constricts the airwaves."
Another trigger for asthma is infection, like a common cold. She said one-way doctors can stop the inflammation is through steroids. She said asthma can't be cured, but it can be controlled. So, the kid can still have a normal life.
"The child should be able to do whatever sports the like," Dr. Fernando said. " They should not be restricted from daily activities and daily lifestyle that they like to do."
Some signs of asthma are coughing, wheezing, and a whistling sound coming from young children. She said not treating it can be a life and death situation because we all need to be able to breathe.
If you think your kid might have asthma, you can contact doctor Fernando at 580-355-5242 to schedule an appointment.