Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization among those under the age of 15. The condition causes the airways to constrict and can be life-threatening if not properly managed. If a child with asthma also has allergies, it’s a double whammy. Now, there’s personalized care for patients with these complex cases.
Tayonni “Onni” Westbrooks loves to be head over heels.
“I’m able to do cartwheels, split, backbends,” Onni exclaims.
Onni is finally able to get the air she needs. From the time Onni was one month old, she had trouble breathing.
“It was terrifying. I thought my baby was gonna die,” Onni’s mom, LaToya expresses.
Onni had severe asthma. LaToya took her to countless doctors and tried every medication available.
LaToya said, “As she got older, they were trying different injections, different medications. She was on five inhalers.”
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Onni was also allergic to dust, grass, pollen, dander, and pets.
“You name it, she was allergic to it,” LaToya adds.
The combination of asthma and allergies would trigger life-threatening reactions. Onni used to be hospitalized almost once a month.
Last year, the Westbrooks were referred to PAPA, the Pulmonary and Allergy Personalized Asthma Clinic. Pediatric pulmonologists and allergists worked together to wean Onni off a high volume of steroids.
Dr. Jeffrey Ewig, MD, pediatric pulmonologist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, explains, “We came up with a strategy where we were using a combination inhaler that we used several times a day initially to get her under control.”
“When we did our most recent virtual visit with her, she was actually on a bouncy ball hopping up and down throughout the visit,” adds allergist, Dr. Priya Patel, MD.
Onni’s doctors also teach behavioral changes – steps she can take first before grabbing her inhaler.
“I take deep breaths. I do that a couple times and, and it helps,” Onni demonstrates.
LaToya emphasizes, “She can be a child and live a normal life.”
Onni’s doctors also worked with the family on lifestyle changes and have helped her recognize her allergy triggers to reduce the frequency of attacks.
LaToya Westbrooks said at one time, her daughter was prescribed steroids at such a high level that the medication impacted her blood sugar, and she was considered pre-diabetic. With her new personalized treatment, that is no longer the case.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.