When Armani was just 3 years old, he began suffering from asthma attacks that were so severe, they would often send him straight to the emergency room. His pediatrician, Ghadir Abdelhadi Issa, M.D., started him on regular nebulizer treatments at home, but over time, the intensity of his attacks continued to increase.
"I can remember Armani was playing outside with his cousins one day and tried to come up the steps to come inside," says Armani's grandmother, Lisa. "By the time he made it up the stairs, he looked so gray and was struggling so badly, I knew we were heading straight to Children's Health℠."
Armani finds support for asthma at Children's Health
Armani was referred to Devika Rao, M.D., Pediatric Pulmonologist at Children's Health and Associate Professor at UT Southwestern. Dr. Rao suspected that Armani's asthma was made worse by some undiagnosed allergies, so she suggested he be evaluated by allergy specialists at Children's Health to determine if they were contributing to his pulmonary challenges. The tests concluded that Armani was susceptible to a number of environmental allergens, some of which are widely known to exacerbate asthma symptoms.
My goal for a child with asthma is for them to feel like a normal kid – at school and at home.
Armani began taking monthly allergy shots and enrolled in the Asthma Management Program, aimed at educating and empowering Armani and his entire family on how to better manage his asthma safely at home. Dr. Rao reminded Armani and his family that treating his asthma would require more than just medication – they wanted to look at the environment and stressors he may be exposed to that might affect his asthma to determine how they could mitigate any triggers.
"The team gave us special pillow cases to help with his allergies and even worked with our landlord to address a mold issue because we knew that was a trigger for Armani's asthma," Lisa says.
In addition to the allergy shots, under Dr. Rao's care, Armani began a twice-daily preventative medication and a second medication he can take as needed throughout the day.
"Asthma is a serious disease that affects the quality of life of both the child and their parents," says Dr. Rao. "I love working with families to empower them and help them understand why they take the medications they do, and how to fit these medications into their busy lives. My goal for a child with asthma is for them to feel like a normal kid – at school and at home."
Asthma does not hold Armani back
Armani is now 12 years old, and with his allergies under control and the proper tools to manage any asthma flare-ups, he is living a very active life. He plays football and baseball, runs track and trains in boxing. As long as he takes his inhaler prior to competition, he is able to approach each activity with the intensity and passion you'd expect from an energetic pre-teen.
His grandmother says they are so grateful for the care and attention that Dr. Rao has shown to their family, knowing that it has made a tremendous difference in Armani's childhood.
"Dr. Rao is a jewel," Lisa says. "She has always been very concerned with Armani's well-being and whenever we call her, the team calls right back. It's a blessing to have a doctor like that."
Children's Health provides comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of children with asthma. Our Asthma Management program offers environmental assessment, asthma education and self-management skills to help children and their parents manage asthma at home. Learn more about our asthma program and services.
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