The differential diagnosis and management of asthma in the preschool-aged child

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Purpose:To discuss the diagnosis and management of asthma in preschool-aged children by nurse practitioners in primary care.Data sources:Selected research and clinical articles; 2007 National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma.Conclusions:Proper diagnosis leads to appropriate treatment of asthma in preschool-aged children, which facilitates asthma control. Well-controlled asthma results in fewer asthma exacerbations, fewer nighttime awakenings, and an increased ability to engage in normal childhood activities.Implications for practice:Advanced practice nurses are in the position to aid in the initial diagnosis of asthma in preschool-aged children through taking detailed medical histories, providing thorough physical examinations, and, if needed, initiating a therapeutic trial with an inhaled corticosteroid. Proper diagnosis and management of asthma is essential to reduce asthma complications, such as exacerbations leading to emergency department visits and hospitalizations.

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