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What You Need to Know about Your Child and Asthma

April 17, 2019

More than 70,000 children in Arkansas have asthma – almost 1 in 10 children in the state. Arkansas Children’s receives more than 8,500 asthma-related visits each year in our and other clinics. In 2015-2016, $3 million was spent on 700 emergency visits for asthma attacks alone. For children, an asthma diagnosis often means missed school days. For parents, it can mean higher health care costs. 

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a chronic (long-lasting) disease of the airways (lungs) that involves:

  • Inflammation (swelling): The body’s natural response to harmful stimuli; often exaggerated in asthma patients

  • Airway obstruction: Too much inflammation leads to narrowing of the airways, making it harder for air to move through them

  • Hyper-reactivity: Airway muscles react strongly to inhaled irritants, narrowing the airways even more

Asthma symptoms include:

  • A cough (often worse at night)

  • Wheezing or whistling sound heard when breathing

  • Shortness of breath or problems breathing

  • Chest tightness/pain

  • Difficulty playing sports or exercising

  • Symptoms are often worse during exercise or around triggers

Managing Asthma at School

Managing asthma at home is relatively easy in cooperation with your child’s physician. However, managing asthma at school can be challenging for some children. Thankfully, the Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas, established and funded by Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, is making it easier for school nurses to help students manage asthma. The foundation recently granted Arkansas Children’s School Nurse Academy funds to support the Tackling Asthma and its Social Determinants through School Nurses initiative.

The grant provides training and 200 school asthma care kit to school nurses. The asthma care kits include pediatric stethoscopes, emergency albuterol inhalers, chamber spacers and masks for albuterol as well as pulse oximeters to measure the blood oxygen saturation level of a patient.

What Makes Arkansas Children’s Different for Kids with Asthma

The board-certified experts in our award-winning Allergy & Immunology Division provide care to children with allergic and immunologic diseases, including asthma, by combining clinical care and research with cutting-edge technology. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report, the global authority in hospital rankings and consumer advice, ranked Arkansas Children’s Hospital in four specialties, including Pulmonology, in the 2018-19 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings. 

If you suspect your child has asthma, talk to your family physician or pediatrician about a referral to Arkansas Children's for evaluation and testing. For appointments, call 501-364-4000 (Little Rock) or 479-725-6995 (Springdale). 

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