I couldn’t help but be touched by the recent item on the BBC news about the death four years ago of Lisa Dennis at the age of 10 years.
Lisa died following an asthma attack. Although she had an inhaler for an allergy, her parents were not aware she was an asthmatic. According to her family the word “asthma” was never mentioned.
Dr Satish Rao of the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, who looks after difficult asthma cases, says “one of the biggest frustrations for us is the complacency among healthcare professionals about asthma in children and young people. We have tried to convince professionals that asthma is a serious illness.” Dr Rao believes many deaths could be prevented by better information about when to seek medical help.
Asthma UK’s clinic lead, Dr Andy Whittamore, says there is a lot of concern by both parents and children to use the steroid medication properly as steroids have had bad press.
How much better it would be if the cause of the asthma was diagnosed and treated, rather than just symptom control with medication.
The aim of our clinics is to identify the cause which for asthma could be inhalant allergies, i.e. dust, house dust mites, pets or moulds; or it could be dietary. Some patients find that their symptoms get worse after eating certain foods or additives.
We recommend skin prick tests or blood tests to identify the culprits if inhalant allergies are suspected. If this is the case they can be treated with desensitisation if avoidance is not possible. If foods is the cause, dietary changes can we made or, if impractical, desensitisation can also be used.