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Katie Reeves: Viral and Pre-School Wheeze at DFTB17


This talk was recorded live on the final day of DFTB17 in Brisbane. If you missed our first conference, check out our YouTube channel.

(Editors note: This talk was recorded way before the results of the recent Paris trial that, depending on your read, may change your stance on the role of steroids in pre-school wheeze.)

Katie is a staff specialist in the emergency department at Queensland Childrens Hospital in Brisbane.

Every other child that presents to the emergency department at this time of year (winter in the southern hemisphere) has a wheeze of some sort. Call it what you will, episodic viral wheeze, multi-trigger wheeze, pre-asthma. We all seem to have a different idea of what causes it and what we can do about it.

Go ahead and watch the talk…

Episodic Viral Wheeze and Multi-Trigger Wheeze

Before delving into treatment strategies, it is crucial to establish a solid foundation of understanding. Reeves introduces us to two distinctive subgroups within pre-school wheeze: episodic viral wheeze and multi-trigger wheeze. The former, often caused by viral infections, presents with discrete episodes and requires a tailored approach. On the other hand, multi-trigger wheeze is characterized by both exacerbations and intermittent symptoms. This clear distinction is pivotal in crafting effective treatment plans for each patient.

The Role of Bronchodilators

Reeves emphasises the importance of grasping the underlying dynamics of wheezing to optimize treatment. She elucidates bronchodilators’ critical role as a mainstay therapy for preschool wheeze. However, not all wheezing is synonymous with bronchoconstriction, as bronchiolitis demonstrates. Thus, the need for accurate assessment and reassessment cannot be overstated. Reeves reminds us of the necessity to actively monitor response to treatment and promptly modify the plan if needed.

Balancing Benefits and Risks: The Role of Steroids

The talk sheds light on a pivotal aspect of treatment: steroids. While steroids have proven efficacy in mitigating symptoms, Reeves presents a balanced perspective. Steroids do not significantly alter hospitalization duration for mild to moderate viral wheeze. Consider evidence-based practices and the potential minor side effects of steroids, such as hyperactivity and mood disturbances. This underscores the need for individualized approaches, considering the child’s specific condition and response.

Tailoring Education for Diverse Families

Reeves aptly reminds us that families come in diverse shapes and forms. The educational approach cannot be a one-size-fits-all model. From high-functioning nuclear families to blended or non-English speaking households, each family requires a tailored strategy. The time invested in explaining the intricacies of viral pre-school wheeze and treatment options is an investment in the child’s well-being.

The Future of Pre-school Wheeze

As the medical landscape evolves, Reeves invites us to contemplate the future of pre-school wheeze management. This involves refining definitions, acknowledging the unique nature of children aged one to five, and reevaluating the use of steroids for first-time wheezers with brief hospital stays. Most of these children will eventually grow out of their wheezing, underscoring the importance of timely and accurate management.

Personalized, comprehensive education is a potent tool for managing this condition. By understanding the subgroups, grasping the dynamics of treatment, and prioritizing education, we can empower families to become active participants in their child’s care journey.

To hear more about the research in this area then come along to and listen to one of the lead researchers, Meredith Borland.

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