ASTHMA: Doctors Craft New Treatment Guidelines
In response to the increasing numbers of children suffering from asthma -- nearly 5 million children under age 18 -- a group of medical experts has created new guidelines for treating the disease, called "Pediatric Asthma: Promoting Best Practice." As "asthma is frequently misdiagnosed and many children do not get proper treatment," the guidelines aim to help doctors more accurately diagnose asthma and prescribe the best treatment. One suggestion calls for patients to use anti-inflammatory medications such as inhaled steroids as part of "a good, daily regimen," instead of the "quick-fix" of an inhaler. Further, doctors should consider diagnosing asthma if children have a history of coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, rapid breathing and chest tightness and if those symptoms worsen with presence of viral infections, wood or tobacco smoke, exercise, allergens, weather changes, crying or laughter. The new guidelines are backed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Insitute, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the American Academy of Pediatrics. (FitzGerald, Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/1).
Washington Post Feature
The Washington Post Magazine on Sunday explored the ramifications of childhood asthma and the fact that "good care is a cumbersome, labor-intensive, costly process -- which is why so many financially hard-pressed families end up doing little or nothing until a crisis hits and they must rush their kids to the emergency room" (10/31).