Dad of Divas' Reviews: Book Review - Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent's Guide

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Book Review - Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent's Guide

About the Book
Allergies are increasing.  It may be something simple as an annoying itching of skin or eyes, to a stuffed nose or tightening or sensitivity of the throat, to debilitating sneezing fits, all the way to life-threatening asthma attacks or shock from eating certain foods.

Between fifteen and twenty percent of all Americans suffer from allergies. That includes 35 million people from allergic rhinitis, which is commonly excused as a runny nose.  It occurs when you breathe in something you are allergic to, such as dust, dander, or pollen. Over 15 million people suffer from asthma and between 6 and 8 percent of children suffer from food allergies. Children in particular, can experience misery in small or large doses, and finding out the cause of the problem may be a challenge.

The kicker is that studies are showing that less than 50 percent of all doctors treat these diseases properly.  The results are tragic for personal health and for the nation’s health care bills, resulting in tens of thousands of medical emergencies, billions of dollars in costs, and a diminished quality of life for millions of children.

In their new book Asthma, Allergies, Children: A Parent’s Guide two of the most experienced pediatric allergy specialists in the country tackle the myths and realities of allergies and asthma and offer up a new manifesto to help parents and children cope with the irritants and hazards of the world we live in.  Their easy-to-understand and lively book takes the mystery out of the medicine and pathology, using stories and humor to educate and motivate people to take the right actions.

The allergic process is compared what happens to with the military in a battle or a war. 

Initially, the special forces parachute in and do reconnaissance in enemy territory, identifying command centers and strategic targets for attack.  Then the infantry lands and there’s aerial bombardment, where the enemy is destroyed, but the surrounding tissue is threatened with collateral damage.  Finally, there’s a third phase, with land mines and unexploded bombs left behind, and snipers and saboteurs remain underground while the civilian population struggles to recover.

The culprit is inflammation, the doctors say: “Inflammation is the most dangerous allergic response.  Redness, swelling, pain, itching, or heat can all be important symptoms of an allergy.  What happens if a cut goes untreated? An alarming infection can set in.  Now imagine this happening in your child’s sinuses.  Just because you can’t see the inflammation doesn’t mean that your child is not suffering.”

Inflammation in the lungs can cause asthma – a wheezing shortness of breath that can be minor or so severe as to cause permanent damage and even death. 

Many physicians have a hard time identifying asthma; it is misdiagnosed 30% of the time.  They are even reluctant to use the A-word, because it is alarming to parents.  But denial is counterproductive and a wait-and-see attitude is a recipe for chronic inflammation and permanent damage to the lungs.

Parents can use the same checklist of symptoms used by physicians to help diagnose asthma in school-aged children:

Does your child:
  • Make noisy or wheezy sounds when breathing?
  • Have a hard time taking a deep breath?
  • Have a hard time breathing in cold weather?
  • Develop coughs that won’t go away?
  • Complain about chest tightness or pain after running?
  • Wake up at night coughing?
  • Have itchy, puffy or burning eyes or a runny, stuffy nose?
  • Cough around pets?

In addition, one of the best diagnostic tools centers on a quick evaluation of the child’s quality of life and boils down to three simple questions:

  1. Do you sleep tight?
  2. Do you work right?
  3. Do you play with might?

Each of these questions reflects a key signal of illness and health in the asthmatic child.

All sorts of misnomers and common myths are clarified. Big cities, with a high concentration of pollutants in the air, are a canary in a mine for the rest of the country.  But no region is safe; recent research shows that asthma is as prevalent in rural areas as in the cities.

Parents who are fearful of using steroids because athletes have given them a bad name.  But this is an urban myth.  In reality your child’s medicine is a different thing entirely, an anti-inflammatory corticosteroid, derived from the adrenal cortex, not the anabolic steroids which turns 97-pound weaklings into the Incredible Hulk, which are derived from testosterone. 

Food allergies, particularly, are misunderstood and misdiagnosed and frequently result in malnutrition.

The bottom line? The most important thing that parents can do is to see an allergy specialist.  Get a referral or get an appointment, do whatever it takes.  Seeing a specialist is to best way to make sure your child gets the best and most effective treatment. 

My Take on the BookI have been very fortunate that my kids have never had any severe allergies! Saying this, I know of numerous other parents that are dealing with these allergies. This book is set up to be a ready made reference to take you as a reader to a further knowledge of these allergies and what you can do to assist in both identification of the situation as well as deal with the aftermath of the allergies itself.

I looked the fact that the book was easy to read yet still gives enough scientific and medical background so that anyone can understand. The book was full of useful practical advice for parents of a child with asthma or allergies. As I mentioned this was an easy read, but what is nice is that the book is full of many types of resources that any family can read  no matter what the situation is.

All-in-all this was a great book and a perfect gift for someone who is dealing with these issues on a daily basis!
All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company.  Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site's Disclaimer  for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions. 
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1 comment:

Henry Ehrlich said...

Thanks for the enthusiastic review. As co-author and editor of our website, I encourage your readers to visit us at They can get the lastest news, research, commentary by our doctors, Food Allergy Corner, and ask questions about their own kids' allergies. Updated almost daily.