Pediatric Asthma vs. Medication Adherence: Why it Matters
Posted June 16, 2017
Can you guess the most prevalent serious chronic disease in infants and children?
Although sometimes difficult to diagnose, childhood asthma is the most common serious chronic disease in pediatrics 1.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a long-term condition affecting nearly 7 million children in the United States. It causes the airways within the lungs to inflame and become more narrow. In turn, this makes it difficult to breathe.
To fully understand why asthma hinders the ability to breathe properly, it’s helpful to know how the airways work. The airways are small tubes that carry oxygen to and from your lungs; undoubtedly, the proper working of these tubes is very important to the lungs’ function.
People with asthma experience inflammation within their airways, and this inflammation causes the tubes to swell while the muscles around them tighten. This tightening creates a narrower channel for the oxygen to travel, which allows less air to reach the lungs. Because of this, children and adults with asthma often experience wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness 2.
What Happens During an Asthma Attack?
An asthma attack occurs when these symptoms suddenly worsen and the airways intensely tighten. There are various triggers for an asthma attack including heavy exercise, strong emotions (crying, yelling, etc.), irritants in the air, and changes in temperature and humidity. However, each asthmatic is different and can be triggered by different components 3.
Someone experiencing a severe asthma attack should always seek immediate help. Without medical attention, a serious attack could end fatally. This is why it’s important that asthmatics and their loved ones work together to use preventative measures to control their condition.
Pediatric Asthma vs. Medication Adherence
It can sometimes be difficult for parents to recognize that their child may have asthma. Younger children are usually unable to complete the airflow test, which is a test used to detect asthma in which the patient blows forcibly into a tube. As for infants, it can be difficult to figure out what they’re feeling since they cannot express how they feel through words. As a parent, it’s easy to mistake your child’s coughing and wheezing for a minor head cold, when in reality it could be a sign of asthma.
Although there is no cure for asthma, proper management and treatment can prevent severe attacks or worsening symptoms. Depending on the child’s severity of his or her asthma, your pediatrician may specify two types of medication:
- Fast Relief Medication – This is typically a medication dispersed through an inhaler that helps control the immediate symptoms of asthma (coughing, wheezing, etc.)
- Long-term Management Medication – This medication (which is also often dispersed through an inhaler) helps control the inflammation in the airways. This is taken daily to prevent asthma symptoms and attacks.
Carefully planned use of treatments for your child’s asthma can help you and your child take control of asthma. Taking these medications correctly and at the suggested time each day is critical in helping your child manage his or her condition 4.
Our Pediatric Asthma Study with Cincinnati Children’s
At MedaCheck, we want to ensure that children with asthma feel comfortable managing their asthma independently. We teamed up with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and are currently engulfed in a 3-month study with adolescent asthmatics.
The children range from ages 11-17, and are all using MedaCheck’s mobile app, Habit, to assist in their medication management program. The application offers personalized reminders to take medication at the correct time, at the correct dosage, every time. Each child then uses a spirometer to track their lung function and feeds that data back to our mobile app via Bluetooth. The research coordinators also track this data through Map, which is a cloud platform which allows doctors and caregivers to match and track patients.
This study will conclude towards the end of September 2017, and we’re excited to share the results with you.
Help Your Loved Ones Take Control of Their Medication Management
Want to learn more about MedaCheck’s easy-to-use medication reminder system?
Available as a standalone app called Habit, MedaCheck makes sure you take the right dose, at the right time, every time. If you’re a hospital, care center, healthcare organization or home care provider, employer or individual, visit www.medacheck.com.