Just When She Thought the Asthma Was under Control

First Friday in First Person. Asthma, which affects about 20 million

asthmatics must beware of drug's potenially dangerous side effects

asthmatics must beware of drug's potenially dangerous side effects

people throughout the world is defined by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute as a common chronic disorder of the airways that is complex and characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, airflow obstruction, bronchial hyperresponsiveness (or bronchospasm), and an underlying inflammation. There have been a number of success stories in the management of asthma, such as Olympic champions Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Dara Torres whose are highlighted as a part of the Asthma All-Stars, an innovative campaign by the Breathe Easy Play Hard Foundation.  Yet, the fact remains that asthma is becoming more and more common.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  its prevalence in US children has increased from 3.6% in 1980 to 9% in 2001, driving families on repeated trips to the emergency room while patients in the crisis of an asthma attack, struggle to breathe.  Recently, I had the opportunity to become acquainted with Melissa, a blogging mother who has two special needs children.  For this month’s personal look inside disease, I’d like to share an experience she and her daughter, Ava had with a drug to treat her asthma.  It not only demonstrates some of the challenges of managing the disease but the type of proactive, informed advocacy that ensures the best care for patients.

Ava has asthma and in October of 2007, after a hospital stay, she began taking Singulair.  Singulair is a daily asthma controller medication and for Ava, it has been a wonder drug. She went from visiting the ER one to two times per month for her asthma to going a few times a year.  Over the past six weeks or so, Ava has been incredibly weepy. She will cry every evening saying that she has no friends, etc…[T]he past week she’s been saying some pretty disturbing things, especially for a five-year-old.

Ava was subsequently taken off of the drug because she was experience side effect symptoms of depression.  In her update after ending the Singulair, Melissa writes:

[W]e don’t have an increase in asthma symptoms (yet). I can’t help myself by saying yet because in October or November she was without Singulair for about a week and picked up a respiratory bug at school – her asthma symptoms were through the roof. Hopefully with her Flovent 3x/day we’ll be able to avoid it this time.

Asthma is a complex disease that is both costly to the health care system and a challenge for many patients to manage.  Throughout the month we will continue to examine the research and other aspects related to this chronic disease.

Melissa and Ava’s experience in full in Asthma, Singulair and Depression at mindlessmommy.com

About the Breathe Easy Play Hard Foundation

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