Breathe Easy: All About Asthma

Hadassah On Call: New Frontiers in Medicine

Can your environment trigger asthma? Does asthma impact your sleep pattern? Is it genetic? We're delving into asthma causes, management and treatments with Dr. Joel Reiter, head of Hadassah Medical Organization's sleep center and a pediatric pulmonologist.

About this episode

Sleep disorders expert and pediatric pulmonologist Dr. Joel Reiter is the head of Hadassah Medical Organization’s sleep clinic. After completing his residency in pediatrics at the Hadassah Hebrew University Medical School he completed a pediatric pulmonary fellowship at the Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, FL, followed by a fellowship in sleep medicine at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School Hospitals, in Boston, MA.

Dr. Reiter returned to Israel in 2014 and joined the Hadassah Pediatric Pulmonary unit. In 2016 he established the sleep clinic. He is a Hadassah Hebrew University Medical School lecturer in pediatrics and coordinator for the course on the Respiratory System of the Sick Person. He is also a member of the Israeli Society for Sleep Research scientific committee. Dr. Reiter’s research interests include diagnosis and treatment of asthma, bronchiolitis, cystic fibrosis, primary ciliary dyskinesia and sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and narcolepsy.

Approximately 1 in 13 Americans have asthma, a chronic lung disease that can significantly impact their breathing ability. Common symptoms include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and sleep disturbances. To delve into asthma and its effects on children and adults, we had the privilege of sitting down with Dr. Joel Reiter, an expert in sleep disorders and pediatric pulmonology, who heads the sleep center at Hadassah Medical Organization.

Dr. Reiter discussed the importance of diagnosing and treating asthma, particularly in children, where it is the most prevalent noninfectious disease. A common approach among doctors is the step-up, step-down method. They aim to reduce medications and interventions when the treatment is effective while providing additional care when patients experience difficulties. Factors such as diet, exercise, and weight can impact the severity of asthma, and allergies also play a significant role. Although current preliminary treatments for asthma are relatively uniform, Dr. Reiter anticipates more personalized medical options in the future as the field advances.

For individuals with asthma experiencing sleep disturbances, Dr. Reiter recommends identifying the underlying cause. It could be insufficient control of asthma, necessitating an increase in treatment, or the presence of a sleep-related breathing disorder requiring targeted intervention. He points out that addressing sleep-related breathing disorders in children often involves a straightforward surgery, and by doing so, improvements in their asthma may also be observed.

Dr. Reiter and his team have published a review paper examining the link between asthma and sleep disorders. They aim to raise awareness among physicians treating asthma patients, encouraging them to inquire about their patients' sleep patterns and potential sleep-related issues.

During the interview, listeners can expect insights into specific allergies' connections to asthma, information on new injection treatments administered bi-monthly for asthma patients, and how modern applications can enhance treatment approaches. Furthermore, the discussion touches on the correlation between air pollution and asthma, exploring geographical variations in Israel where the disease may be more or less prevalent.

By shedding light on these critical topics, we hope to empower patients and healthcare professionals in the ongoing battle against asthma and its related complications.

Further learning:

"Hadassah On Call: New Frontiers in Medicine" is a production of Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America. Hadassah enhances the health of people around the world through medical education, care and research innovations at the Hadassah Medical Organization. For more information on the latest advances in medicine please head over to

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The show is hosted by Maayan Hoffman and produced by the team at the Hadassah offices in both New York and Israel.

Read a transcript of the episode.

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Watch the interview below.