The rise of asthma control and impairment as the main indicators of management has renewed interest in a longstanding challenge: Variability in the perception and experience of asthma symptoms. Parents and children have been shown to differ in their assessments of the existence of asthma, let alone the presence or severity of specific symptoms. And the meaning of symptoms, and the ties to medication taking, are other matters entirely.
A new report from a large interview study suggests that worldwide, few children and adolescents achieve control of their asthma and experience frequent symptoms. A significant portion (11 percent) reported mild asthma attacks at least weekly, while 35 percent required oral corticosteroids or hospitalization at least annually.
The team interviewed 1,284 parents of children with asthma in six countries (Canada, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, South Africa and the UK) and 943 of the children themselves. The results highlight the impact of frequent morbidity on daily life: Asthma restricted the child’s activities in 39 percent of families and caused 70 percent to change their lifestyle. The article was published in the European Respiratory Journal.
One reason for the significant morbidity may be parental misperception of asthma control. Parents in the study tended to underestimate the severity of their child’s asthma while overestimating the level of control. While 73 percent of parents described their child’s asthma as mild or intermittent, 40 percent of children/adolescents had C-ACT scores ≤19, indicating inadequate control. In addition, even fewer (14.7%) achieved complete control as defined by the more stringent Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) guidelines.