Doctors: Fall season dangerous for kids with asthma

November 9, 2011 4:58:24 PM PST
About seven million children have asthma, and as we enter flu season, their parents should know that a case of the flu or even a cold, could be extra dangerous for them.

Last year, 115 children died of the flu in the U.S. and a number of them also had asthma.

Kyle Walsh was playing soccer when he first realized something was wrong.

"It feels like you're getting left behind and you're worse than other kids," he said.

But his mother knew it was a way bigger deal than just getting left behind.

"His face is red and he's got his hands over his head and I'm looking at other parents like, what's wrong with him?" Connie Walsh said.

Kyle has asthma. Running during a soccer game isn't the only risk he faces. Experts say the fall is the most dangerous time of year for kids with asthma because of the cold and flu.

"Colds are the No. 1 thing that land kids in the hospital. They'll come down with a cold, they'll start having a cough by Day 2, and by Day 3, they're in trouble," said Dr. Beth Allen with Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Dr. Allen says children with asthma already have an immune system dealing with one disease, so a cold or flu can truly be dangerous.

"Thirty percent of the kids who end up in the hospital with flu have asthma. So they're clearly at increased risk if they get the flue to get quite ill, not only with their asthma but also pneumonia," she said.

To protect kids with asthma, doctors say give them a flu shot, go for a fall asthma checkup and work with your doctor to come up with a written action plan.

"They need to able to recognize the symptoms, know which medicines to use if they develop issues and also know when to call the doctor if that medicine is failing," Dr. Allen said.

Doctors say all it takes is one trigger -- the flu, a cold, a change in weather, even allergens. Any one of these triggers could exacerbate already irritated airways and land a kid in the hospital.

Doctors say kids during an asthma attack don't always wheeze. Some just have a cough and those are the asthma attacks that can get overlooked and become severe.

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