When big breathing problems trouble little ones – Pediatric pulmonologists provide expert care

Asthma- when to see the pediatric pulmonologistStruggling to breathe can be terrifying, especially for children – and their parents. Acute and chronic respiratory challenges including asthma need specialized care to keep airways open – enter the pediatric pulmonologist.

Chiarina Galvez, M.D., explains when a child with asthma symptoms should see a pediatric pulmonology specialist.

What is pediatric pulmonology?

Pediatric pulmonology is a medical specialty that focuses on the care of infants, children and teenagers with disorders of the lung and airways, and those with sleep-related breathing problems.

If a child has moderate-to-severe asthma, should the child see a pediatric pulmonologist?

Children with moderate-to-severe persistent asthma may benefit from a consultation with a pulmonologist. Asthma guidelines recommend seeing a specialist for children ages 0 to 4 years who need daily controller therapy.

These recommendations are made because several studies have shown that patients who received specialized care had better outcomes, which included improvements in asthma symptoms, as well as fewer hospitalizations and emergency department visits.

If the asthma diagnosis is uncertain, or if there are difficulties maintaining asthma control, then pulmonology referral should be strongly considered.

Asthma is not as common in Arizona because the climate is hot and dry – right?

Unfortunately, we’ve learned over the years that asthma is prevalent in the state. In 2014, it was estimated that the prevalence of asthma in Arizona children aged 17 years and younger was higher than the national average (10.9 percent vs 9.2 percent).

Asthma is a complex condition, and it is likely that genetics and multiple environmental factors interact to trigger the disease.

The right environment depends on the individual’s triggers. A climate that might be good for one child’s asthma, might be terrible for another. Achieving good asthma control requires working with a specialist to identify and avoid triggers, medication adherence and regular follow-up visits to optimize therapy.

What respiratory symptoms should a parent of a child with asthma be mindful of?

In children, symptoms of respiratory problems are often varied and may be subtle. If a child is experiencing any of the following symptoms, a pediatric pulmonologist may be able to help.

  • Cough for more than four weeks and is not improving
  • Two (or more) episodes of pneumonia in one year
  • Chronic wet cough
  • Pauses or stops breathing while awake or asleep
  • Fast or labored breathing on a frequent basis
  • Frequent or recurrent brassy or honking cough
  • Gets a cough after he or she choked on food or another object, even if he or she choked on the object days or weeks ago

It may also be helpful to see a pediatric pulmonologist if a child has received treatment due to a respiratory illness.

  • Hospitalization
  • More than one visit to an emergency department
  • Received more than two courses of oral steroids in the past year
  • Has complicating conditions (e.g., chronic lung disease of prematurity)

Dr. Galvez - pediatric pulmonologistWhat motivated Dr. Galvez to become a pediatric pulmonologist?

It has been my life’s calling to care for children who are acutely ill and admitted to the hospital. But what makes pediatric pulmonology so special to me is the opportunity to see patients over the long term – I build relationships with the children and their families. It’s why I chose this field.

In addition to completing medical school and a pediatric residency, Dr. Chiarina Galvez completed her pediatric pulmonary fellowship – a three-year, specialized training in the treatment and management of pediatric, respiratory illnesses.

What are the most common illnesses you treat?

Conditions we frequently treat include asthma, bronchopulmonary dysplasia (breathing problems related to prematurity), chronic cough, recurrent pneumonia and sleep apnea. We also take care of patients who are technology dependent, such as those with tracheostomies and on home ventilators and oxygen.

Dr. Galvez is a pediatric pulmonologist at TMCOne. Call (520) 324-7200 for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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