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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Can asthma be diagnosed in a baby? Does coffee help asthmatics?

Every day at we get lots of asthma related questions. Below are some questions I thought my readers at the RT Cave would enjoy.

Question: How many people are living with asthma in the USA?

My humble answer: According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that number stands currently at 16.4 million, which is 7.3% of all Americans. Seven million of those are children, which is 9.4% of all children (click here for more). The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) also has some pretty interesting stats about asthma if you care to check it out here.

Question: Can asthma be diagnosed in a child under 2 years old?

My humble answer: My daughter's pediatrician said she will not diagnose asthma until a child is 2-3 years old. I have heard many times, in RT school perhaps, that the best way to diagnose asthma is by doing a PFT test, and a child under 2-3 cannot do it.

However, since asthma is genetic, if there is a long standing family history of asthma then asthma can be the "assumed" diagnosis for a child. My daughter, for example, was diagnosed with asthma long before she was 2 due to asthma-like symptoms and the fact I have asthma.

I suppose the answer to your question is yes and no. However, every doctor is different, and therefore this is something you may want to discuss with your child's pediatrician.

Question: Does coffee help asthmatics?

My humble answer:
Great question. I learned about this when I was a kid and tried it myself. It gave me some relief, but not enough to matter.

The truth is, coffee is a mild bronchodilator. It was actually used by asthmatics back in the 1800s and earlier to get some asthma relief. It was one of the options Teddy Roosevelt used when he was a kid back in the 1870s. It wasn't a great bronchodilator, but it did give some relief.

Coffee is a member of the Xanthine family the same as Theophylline is. Theophylline went on to become a front line therapy for treating asthma from around the 1950s until the late 1990s. It was actually used more as a preventative medicine the way Advair is used today.

I would not recommend using coffee as an asthma medicine. You are better off keeping a Ventolin inhaler on hand to treat acute asthma episodes, and to prevent asthma with controller medicines your doctor will prescribe.

If you have any further questions email me, or Visit's" Q&A section.

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