At only four months old, Sullivan had his first serious attack of wheezing. “He was fighting for breath and panicking. His dad and I were panicking too and rushed him to hospital, where he had to stay for a couple of days,” says his mum Karen.
Sullivan’s asthma symptoms – wheezing, coughing, breathlessness and tightness in the chest – were detected by doctors around the age of one. Unfortunately a diagnosis is not usually possible until a child is school age, even though evidence suggests the disease starts much earlier.
Now Sullivan’s asthma is treated and he is really good at using his inhalers and taking his tablets, but sometimes playing too much sport can bring on attacks.
“When Sullivan has attacks and cannot breathe properly it is frightening for him and everybody around him.” his mum says.
Action Medical Research has funded scientists to investigate the links between early infections, allergy, wheezing and asthma. An improved understanding of asthma could help find a way to diagnose the disease earlier, before a child’s lungs have been damaged. This could also guide the development of better treatments.
We have funded a team in Leicester to investigate the potential role of funghi in relation to asthma in children, and we are currently supporting researchers in Brighton, who are looking to develop more personalised treatment for children with asthma.
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