We know what to do, but we are not doing it! Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs. Inflammation can cause ongoing damage. Albuterol helps children breath better for the moment, but does nothing to treat the inflammation.
The guidelines for treatment are clear: kids with asthma who have symptoms more than twice a week or nighttime wheezing more than twice a month benefit greatly from using a preventive, anti-inflammatory medicine rather than using albuterol alone. Certainly someone who uses albuterol daily should be on a preventive medicine instead or in addition.
But a study of over 13,000 children found that preventive medicines are significantly underused, according to the April 2001 issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
Children under the age of 5 are most at risk for missing out on this important approach. Teens are fairly likely to get the correct initial prescription, but are unlikely to get the appropriate follow-up. And overall, girls are less likely to get the correct treatment.
If your child has asthma, ask that the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) guidelines be followed. Preventing inflammation prevents damage to the lungs and can greatly improve the long-term outcome.