NANCY OSTROM, MD: There's a challenge in adolescence of having the patients recognize their symptoms. They're often less aware of physical symptoms than they are of what they might be doing on the weekend or that they need to get their homework in on time. So we do have to be more aware of the more subtle cues that they're having cough at night, that they're having exercise limitations, that they are having colds or coughs that are lasting longer than normal.
ANNOUNCER: If teens don't pay attention to their asthma, they may put themselves at higher risk of serious attack.
ELLEN CRAIN, MD: The typical situation is that they get sicker than a younger child might get before they arrive at medical attention, because they don't do what their parents said, sometimes. They won't go to the doctor for checkups. They're going to a doctor who takes care of a lot of young children and may not be as comfortable seeing adolescents. And so all of these factors kind of work together to lead to under treatment, in general, of adolescents. So they're more at risk of serious problems.
ANNOUNCER: According to federal guidelines, the cornerstone of proper treatment for adolescents with persistent asthma is an inhaled corticosteroid, to reduce inflammation.
There are four inhaled steroids approved for use in adolescents: Aerobid, Azmacort, Flovent and Pulmicort Turbuhaler
Even when there's no debate about whether an adolescent has asthma and should be on medication, good communication about treatment can be difficult.
NANCY SANDER: They love to tell mom and dad that they did take their medications, when, in fact, they didn't. And mom and dad have to figure a way to give them just enough rope for them to learn their own lessons without them, you know, having a disastrous result at the end.