Asthma Management

Discover Health

Integrative Family Medicine & Naturopathic Doctors located in North Beach, San Francisco, CA & San Mateo, CA

Asthma is a chronic disease that causes the airways in the lungs to swell, making it difficult to breathe. This common illness is more serious for children than it is for adults because their airways are smaller and more affected by swelling. At Discover Health in San Francisco, pediatricians Dr. Oded Herbsman and Dr. Jon-Michael Castelli provide comprehensive care for children with asthma. To find out more, call or book an appointment online at their North Beach area office today.

Asthma Management Q & A

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic illness that affects the airways of the lungs, causing them to swell and become sore.

Usually, when your child breathes in, air enters through their nose or mouth, travels down their windpipe, and enters the airways of their lungs.

When a child has asthma, air has a smaller pathway to travel because the disease causes their airways to swell and fill with mucus. The muscles around their airways also tighten, making the airways even narrower.

Typical asthma symptoms include:

  • Recurrent cough
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath

No one knows exactly why some people develop asthma, and others don’t, but researchers believe that it may be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

What causes an asthma attack?

When something irritates your child’s airway and triggers a flare-up, also known as an asthma attack, symptoms can become worse fairly quickly. Some of the most common asthma triggers include:

  • Allergens, including mold, pollen, and animal dander
  • Cigarette smoke, air pollution, and other airborne irritants
  • Cold air or sudden changes in weather
  • Exercise or intense physical exertion
  • Infections that affect the airway, including the flu and the common cold

How is asthma managed effectively?

Effective asthma management is essential not only for preventing asthma attacks but also for helping children lead a normal, healthy life. Untreated asthma can cause children to have less stamina or avoid physical activity because it might result in coughing or wheezing.

The first step in effective asthma management is knowing what triggers an asthma attack. For most children, allergens and the common cold are the two most common triggers. If your child has any allergies, avoiding those allergens can significantly improve their asthma.

The second step in controlling asthma and preventing attacks is developing an asthma management plan. That’s where Dr. Herbsman and Dr. Castelli can help.

Asthma is treated with two kinds of medicines: Quick-relief medicines that stop asthma attacks, and long-term control medicines to prevent flare-ups.

A detailed asthma management plan outlines what medications your child should take and when you might need to increase the dosage. The plan also teaches you how to spot early symptoms for quick treatment and includes advice about when you should call your pediatrician.