Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs that occurs in both adults and children. Asthma can be triggered by a variety of issues, including smoke, pollen, grass, pets, paints and even exercise. These triggers cause the lungs to inflame, inducing coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest paint, chest tightness and fatigue.
Asthma affects an estimated 7.1 million children under 18-years-old, and is one of the leading causes of hospitalization among children under the age of 15.
Asthma can vary in its degrees of severity, sometimes so incredibly severe that patient’s need more than prescription medication to maintain control of their disease. The Difficult Asthma Clinic at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach helps patients with severe, hard-to-control asthma.
The Difficult Asthma Clinic, part of the Pediatric Pulmonary Center, helps patients through a variety of tests which monitor a number of pulmonary functions, including lung capacity, flow and resistance.
“Based on the results from the pulmonary function testing, we can determine the severity of the disease,” says Eliezer Nussbaum, M.D., medical director, Pediatric Pulmonary Center, Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. “Some patients require more attention and are hospitalized more frequently. They need to be in the clinic more often because every little trigger can throw them into significant distress.”
The Difficult Asthma Clinic sees patients whose asthma cannot be controlled effectively and whose condition can very quickly deteriorate. These type of patients come with a high-risk status that requires the help and constant monitoring that the Difficult Asthma Clinic provides.
A large number of patients have asthma with a very mild degree of severity that can be controlled with medication, but due to financial hardships and other difficulties, fail to take their medication. Patients with difficult circumstances preventing them from properly maintaining their asthma often end up in the Difficult Asthma Clinic.
“These patients are non-compliant,” explains Nussbaum. “They get into trouble easily. Their asthma can be handled effectively, but unfortunately because they don’t take their medications, don’t visit a clinic or don’t follow doctor recommendations, they end up considered difficult asthma patients.”
The Difficult Asthma Clinic at Miller Children’s provides Certified Asthma Educators (CAE) who help educate patients and their families. A Miller Children’s CAE educates patients on what to expect during their hospital stay, common signs and symptoms of asthma flare ups, warning signs of uncontrolled asthma, what happens during an asthma attack, common asthma triggers and more. Education, along with medication compliance, is necessary in controlling the disease.
“Education’s a priority,” says Nussbaum. “Too many people think their problems have been solved after general admission into the hospital. Once they get better, they stop taking their medications.”
As asthma prevalence has continued to grow over the last 20 years, places like the Difficult Asthma Clinic prove to be a huge necessity. “We have about 13 – 15% of children diagnosed with asthma here in California,” says Nussbaum. “That translates to millions of kids with various degrees of asthma. They need our help.”
For more information, call 800-MEMORIAL.