Although a pediatrician is often the best place to begin your child’s asthma care, if he requires an inhaler more than twice a week to control his condition you may want to consider a visit to an asthma specialist.
According to the World Allergy Organization, patients benefit when they receive coordinated treatment from a single specialist who focuses on determining the specific triggers of asthma and then targeting treatments to counteract those triggers.
If your child also has allergies – a major trigger for asthma attacks – a pediatric allergist may be the best place to start. They have the same medical background as a pediatrician, but have received additional training in pediatric allergy and immunology. They also specialize in treating asthma, allergic rhinitis, hives, eye allergies, eczema and chronic sinus infections.
A pediatric pulmonologist is another specialized care option. In addition to at least 4 years of medical school, these physicians have 3 years of pediatric residency training, as well as a 3-year fellowship in pediatric pulmonology. They’re adept at diagnosing, treating and managing children from birth to age 21 with breathing problems and lung diseases.
Both of these specialists are also skilled at putting children at ease, understand what treatments are safest for infants and babies, and can address problems related to asthma and allergies, such as sleeping troubles, academic issues and psychological problems.
At Akron Children’s, these specialists are supported by respiratory therapists or nurses who perform breathing tests to determine lung function and asthma control, as well as educate you and your child on caring for asthma symptoms. Pulmonary function laboratories are also available to evaluate children with poorly controlled asthma and other breathing problems.
This team can also conduct a variety of allergy tests, including skin tests, blood allergy tests (RAST and allergen-specific immunoglobulin E blood tests) and food challenges. Therapy is based on each patient’s medical history and test results. A dietitian is available for patients with food allergies.
For more information about receiving care from a pediatric allergist, contact the Akron Children’s Hospital Center for Allergy and Immunology at 330-543-0140. To reach a pediatric pulmonologist, call the Robert T. Stone, MD, Respiratory Center at 330-543-8885.