Q&A: Asthma and Coughing

Q: I have a 4-year-old son who was diagnosed with asthma when he was 2 years old. Every year, about this time when the weather changes, he has an “episode.” He just coughs, coughs and coughs. It seems that nothing helps! What should I do?

A: I would recommend that you see your primary care provider. Some children cough with asthma and some wheeze. Your doctor can determine if these symptoms are asthma related. If so, a short acting beta agonist may prove helpful for the cough.

Working at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, I see firsthand how dangerous the influenza virus can be for my patients, especially for the ones at increased risk for complications such as those with chronic medical conditions, like asthma.  In fact, asthmatic children face increased risks from influenza infections, yet approximately 70 percent are not immunized against influenza and go unprotected each year. Influenza can actually worsen symptoms of asthma like wheezing and make breathing more difficult for children that are not vaccinated.  In fact, asthmatic children are five times more likely than healthy children of the same age to be hospitalized with influenza-related illnesses.

I emphasize to parents the best way to prevent the spread of influenza is through annual vaccination and encourage the entire family and close contacts to get immunized.