Pediatric Asthma

Highly Specialized & Personalized Care for Children with Asthma

Asthma affects more than 7 million children in the U.S. and is one of the leading causes of hospitalization for children. Asthma symptoms can be controlled with treatment, but it can cause scary and life-threatening experiences if not treated.

At UH Rainbow Babies & Children's, our pediatric asthma specialists include leaders in asthma treatment and in research to continue to improve the way we treat asthma. We take a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to pediatric asthma care. Our team's mission is to work with you to improve your child's and your family's quality of life.

We work hard to form a partnership with the families we meet so we can learn what's most important for each patient and family. We learn about your child's environment, what activities they enjoy and what asthma triggers they may encounter. Just as no case of asthma is the same, we understand that no child is the same. Our goal is to help every child control their condition and manage their asthma symptoms so they can lead a full, happy and active life.

Round the Clock Access to Asthma Physicians and Nurses

Asthma symptoms often flare up at night. We work to make sure that parents have the knowledge and resources they need to respond to worsening asthma symptoms in the middle of the night. We also have an on-call system, so if a parent is ever worried about their child's breathing, they can reach a doctor at any time, day or night.

Severe Asthma Program

UH Rainbow has extensive experience in treating children with chronic asthma through the Severe Asthma Program. Our team of specialists provides leading-edge treatments as well as education and counseling support to help patients keep their asthma symptoms under control and enjoy active lives without limitations.

Our expert severe asthma team includes:

  • Board-certified pediatric pulmonologists
  • Board-certified pediatric allergists
  • Certified asthma nurse educators
  • Certified pediatric pulmonary function technicians
  • Pediatric respiratory therapists
  • Specialized pediatric asthma nurse practitioners

The Severe Asthma Program treats children and young adults up to age 21 who have experienced repeated or life-threatening asthma attacks, asthma symptoms that persist several days a week despite preventative therapy, and other asthma complications.

Benefits to patients and families include:

  • 24-hour phone access to asthma specialists
  • Personalized and unique treatment plans crafted for each child
  • Expertise using newly developed treatment approaches and biologic medications
  • Access to research studies for promising new asthma treatments
  • State-of-the-art pediatric pulmonary function testing equipment and other diagnostic testing

Consistently Ranked Top 10 in U.S. News & World Report

Asthma is a chronic condition that makes it difficult for children to breathe. Tubes called airways carry air in and out of our lungs. In children with asthma, these airways react to certain triggers and restrict a child's ability to breathe normally. Asthma has no cure, but it can be controlled.

There are many types of asthma, and our team of specialists have the expertise to make accurate diagnoses and determine treatment plans for any type of asthma. Our team is spearheaded by internationally recognized physicians and researchers who are dedicated to improving outcomes for children with asthma. Our team also includes physicians from other specialties, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, dietitians and certified asthma educators - several of whom have more than a decade of experience on our asthma team. Other specialists on our asthma care include:

State-of-the-Art Asthma Diagnostic and Treatment

We've invested in leading-edge diagnostic testing and asthma treatment technologies to accurately determine the best treatment plan for your child. As part of the initial evaluation, we determine your child's pattern of symptoms. By taking a thorough history, we can make sure your child has asthma and not an underlying condition.

We also conduct testing that may include allergy or lung function tests. We look for other conditions that can play a role in asthma including things like reflux, which causes heartburn or acid indigestion, malnutrition or low vitamin levels, obesity, sleep apnea or immune system and swallowing problems. We include treatment or referrals to other team members to address these issues as part of your child's management plan as needed.

Diagnostic testing services may include:

  • Complete pulmonary function tests including testing before and after albuterol to look for a response
  • Exercise challenge testing
  • Flexible fiberoptic & bronchoscopy - a scope of the airways to look for inflammation and infection
  • Testing for common environmental allergens

Once asthma is accurately diagnosed, we take a detailed environmental history. We learn your child environments, where they live, go to school and what exposures they might have in those environments. Things like pets, dust mites or smoke could cause greater irritation of asthma symptoms in kids.

Depending on the diagnosis, child's environment and the family's care goals, we create a personalized treatment and management plan.

Common therapies include:

  • Long-term control medications: Long term asthma medications are typically taken daily to keep the condition and symptoms under control.
  • Quick-relief medications: Used to rapidly ease symptoms during an asthma attack.
  • Biological medications: Innovative injection-based medication to treat severe asthma at the immune system level when other treatments do not work.

Our care plans include routine evaluations. Regular visits are important for asthma patients as some children may grow out of asthma altogether, needing smaller and smaller doses of medication, while others may worsen. We additionally work with families to limit environmental exposures as much as possible.

Education and Resources for Families with Asthma

To help patients keep their asthma under control, we spend a good portion of time educating and preparing families. We emphasize the importance of daily asthma management, and prepare patients and families for potential emergency situations.

It's important to learn how to identify triggers. This helps the child avoid them when possible, or be prepared to respond if that's not possible.

Common asthma triggers include:

  • Cold viruses: The most common trigger for asthma flare-ups in children. These are difficult to avoid outside of good hygiene, so families should be prepared to respond appropriately.
  • Activity and play: Many people think they should limit their child's play and exercise, but nothing could be further from the truth. It's important to know that activity is an asthmatic trigger, so you can manage it properly and the child can fully participate in sports.
  • Stress and intense emotions: Both positive and negative stress and emotions can trigger asthma for some people.
  • Smells and chemicals: Some children are very sensitive to certain smells and chemicals, and most are sensitive to cigarette smoke and other air pollutants. Families can monitor air quality reports, so when levels are poor exposure can be limited.
  • Allergens: Most kids with asthma have allergies that can be seasonal or year-round. By testing for allergies, you can try to reduce exposures.
  • Medications: Some children are sensitive to certain medications. Some anti-inflammatory drugs can trigger asthma in some children.

Novel Treatment Options and Research Studies

UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital is part of an asthma research network called the Precision Interventions for Severe and/or Exacerbation Prone Asthma or PrecISE Network. It's an innovative network funded by the National Institutes of Health. As a member of this research group, our pediatric asthma specialists study innovative therapies to help patients who are unable to control the disease with standard therapies. This includes novel treatments like biological medications or biologics – which are new medications given by injection with promising results for severe asthma.

Our physicians also conduct other research studies to study novel treatments and devices for children and adults with asthma. We believe providing our patients with opportunities to participate in research is a very important part of our program, giving our patients access to exciting new therapies. Please ask your child's doctor or health care provider what studies might be right for you, or call our clinical research team at 216-844-7927.

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