PAPA Treats Asthma and Allergy Combo


PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – 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, back bends,” 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 says, “As she got older, they were trying different injections, different medications. She was on five inhalers.”

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.”

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“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 says 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.

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REPORT:       MB #5045

BACKGROUND: Allergies and asthma often appear simultaneously. The same substances that trigger allergy symptoms, such as pollen, dust mites and pet dander, may also cause asthma signs and symptoms. Skin or food allergies can cause asthma symptoms in some people. An allergic response occurs when immune system proteins, or antibodies, mistakenly identify a harmless substance, such as tree pollen, as an invader. When the body tries to protect itself from the substance, antibodies bind to the allergen. The chemicals released by the immune system can lead to symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes, or skin reactions. For some people, this same reaction also affects the lungs and airways, leading to asthma symptoms.


CAUSES AND MEDICATIONS: Allergic asthma causes the airways to be extra sensitive to certain allergens. Once they get into the body, the muscles around the airways tighten causing the airways to become inflamed and over time, are flooded with thick mucus. Symptoms can include coughing; wheezing; being short of breath; breathing quickly; and feeling your chest get tight. There are steps to help control allergens and improve symptoms. However, allergy and asthma medications may still be needed to treat severe attacks. Some things that may work are nasal allergy medications, saline rinses, and decongestant nasal sprays. If these don’t work, nasal steroid sprays and stronger antihistamines may be used. If none of this helps, allergy shots may be needed. Some prescription medications include inhaled steroids, which fight inflammation, and bronchodilators, which open the airways. If traditional treatments don’t help allergic asthma, an injectable medication may be prescribed.


FUTURE TRENDS IN ASTHMA: Asthma treatments may be changed by novel monoclonal antibodies targeting cytokines, new asthma guidelines emphasizing precision medicine, and real-world evidence on the efficacy of newer asthma drugs. Research showed promising results on the monoclonal antibodies tezepelumab and astegolimab, both of which showed impressive efficacy in reducing asthma exacerbation rates. “The most interesting thing about these drugs is that they are focused on a different aspect, the cytokines, released from the respiratory epithelium, and they did show effectiveness in all comers with severe asthma regardless of their T2 status,” said Jon Romeo, DO, chair of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Asthma Committee, and pulmonology advisor in Raleigh, North Carolina. The FDA’s approval of Tezspire could also change asthma care soon. Tezspire is a monoclonal antibody used as an add-on maintenance treatment for patients 12 years of age and older with severe asthma.



Joey McCool

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Doctors Jeffrey Ewig, MD, Pediatric Pulmonologist, and Priya Patel, MD, Assistant Professor in Clinical Medicine and Allergist and Immunologist

Read the entire Q&A