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Out of control? Tackling childhood asthma
[ by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
'Having asthma is like climbing a big, big hill.'
'It feels like my voice won't work and my heart is beating too fast.'
'When you have asthma you can't finish the game'
Peter Greally first encountered asthma when he was around nine years old. He would wake in the middle of the night, gasping for air and feeling like he was suffocating. Eventually, he found a successful drug treatment and eventually outgrew his asthma.
Deciding to study medicine, Peter qualified as a paediatrician, and now working in Dublin, he treats many children for a condition from which he himself suffered.
The above quotes from his book Childhood Asthma- Your Questions Answered* typify the challenges asthma poses for both child sufferers and their parents. But the positive message is that these difficulties can be overcome
Dr Greally feels he perhaps ended up treating asthma through having a sense of injustice at not having been believed by the first consultant he was referred to as a child. This consultant wrongly believed his symptoms had 'psychosomatic causes.'
"Thankfully, most doctors now recognise that although there can be powerful mind-body interactions, there is undisputed evidence now that asthma has an inflammatory basis."
He says thanks to the many drugs that have now been developed to control the condition, and the lifestyle changes that can be adapted, virtually all children with asthma can lead normal lives.
However, that's the good news.
Peter Greally points out that unfortunately, there are no signs that the asthma epidemic in children is abating in Ireland and in fact it is continuing to rise.
He feels we have still a long way to go in getting to grips with the asthma epidemic and with achieving better asthma control in Ireland's children.
The management of asthma on a daily basis in Ireland still falls well below that of recommended national and international asthma guidelines, Dr Greally points out.
He says while there is increased awareness about the condition, new evidence-based treatment guidelines for health professionals and fewer asthma hospitalisations, these facts may mask the underlying problems which have prevented us really coming to grips with the condition in Ireland.
A recent survey showed that while the vast majority of patents are satisfied in general with their child's asthma control, only 35% of their children used their rescue inhaler either daily or weekly while nearly 60% of children experienced nigh-time awakenings.
Also, one-in-five surveyed missed school on either a daily weekly basis due to their asthma.
Peter says there is an apparent contradiction between parents' perception of how their children are managing with their asthma and actual control using objective criteria.
"Parents seem to have a tolerance for symptoms in their offspring and seem unaware of what constitutes good control."
This was a key reason in his deciding to write the book, as a comprehensive guide to asthma and with a view to improving children's asthma control and awareness among parents about the condition.
"It's intended to be read on an intermittent basis or as a reference for interested parents and older children."
The book is structured in a controversial, easy-to-read question and answer style.
Childhood Asthma explains the causes and effects of the condition, its relationship with allergy, eczema, inflammation and much more.
By highlighting the common triggers and signs of an asthma attack, the book aims to assist asthma sufferers and their parents, guardians or teachers to deal safely with such an occurrence.
The book also includes case studies from the Asthma Society Helpline.
People with asthma are in good company - famous sufferers include Beethoven, Benjamin Disraeli, John F Kennedy and Martin Scorsese. Some famous sportsmen have managed to overcome their asthma to achieve great success, including footballers Paul Scholes and John O'Shea, and Irish rugby player Ronan O'Gara.
All royalties from Childhood Asthma will go to the Asthma Society of Ireland
For more information, see also irishhealth.com's Asthma Clinic
*Childhood Asthma- Your Questions Answered, published by Liberties Press
|Anonymous Posted: 03/10/2011 14:41|
What concerns me is why the rise in athsma in this generation all of a sudden. When I was a child not so long ago very very few children had asthma., Now it seems to be several in every class! At a time when we are better housed, fed, educated and clothed, no-one can seem to explain WHY there is such a big rise.
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