CHILDREN WITH ASTHMA: A MANUAL FOR PARENTS Thomas F Plaut, MD Pedipress Inc. Amherst, Mass, 269 pp. $11.95
All parents want for their children to lead normal and healthy lives unrestricted by illness and accidents. At times, this may seem an unfulfilled hope, especially when a child develops asthma, one of the most troublesome chronic ailments of childhood and adolescence. Parents often feel afraid, frustrated, and helpless, and as a rule they lean heavily on the prescribed therapy of their pediatrician.
This excellent book is a manual for parents, intended to serve as an adjunct and reinforcement to the therapy advised by the child's physician. It was written by Dr. Thomas F. Plaut, a well-known pediatric allergist.
An early chapter, illustrated beautifully, clearly describes the anatomy of the normal respiratory tract and the changes during an asthmatic attack. This is followed by a discussion of the signs and symptoms of asthma and instructions on monitoring the progress of an episode. The various "triggers" that provoke asthmatic attacks are also presented. The author notes that "asthma should not limit the activity of any child receiving proper treatment" - an important statement.
Next is a general discussion of the numerous medications recommended by asthma experts throughout the country. Dr. Plaut emphasizes, however, that parents should not change the child's medication routine without their doctor's approval.
An important chapter relates to home treatment. Using the therapy program prescribed by the pediatrician (either oral or inhaled preparations) arranged during office visits plus telephone consultations, the end result should allow the child full physical activity and a normal, unrestricted life. Also important is the value of the peak flow meter, a simple breathing monitor that reliably indicates, even before the onset of wheezing, the child's inability to breathe out quickly. With this early warning the parents can immediately start medication and ward off an attack. This peak flow meter, valuable in preventing and treating asthmatic attacks, is now being recommended by a rapidly increasing number of asthma specialists and pediatricians.
This book not only provides a wealth of knowledge for parents of asthmatic children, but it also presents many case studies. It is clearly evident that, using modern therapy, parents working closely with the child's pediatrician should almost completely prevent the undesirable symptoms of asthma.