Friday, October 11, 2013


I was all ready to blog about lower back pain... which I'm experiencing quite a bit with this pregnancy especially during these last few weeks... however, this article about a 12 year old girl who died from an asthma attack that started in school caught my eye today and broke my heart.  Let's talk about asthma.

Here are some fast facts from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation:

In a single day:
  • 44,000 people have an asthma attack
  • 36,000 kids miss school due to asthma
  • 27,000 adults miss work due to asthma
  • 4,700 people visit the ER due to asthma
  • 1,200 people are admitted to the hospital due to asthma
  • 9 people die from asthma
Troubling fact:
  • while most other chronic illnesses have decreased in death rate over time... there has been a 50% increase in death rate since 1980 for asthmatics across age, gender, and ethnic groups... the rate for children under 19 years old has increased by nearly 80%
So what is asthma?
  • chronic condition in which the airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucous
Symptoms of asthma can include:
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • chest tightness
  • shortness of breath
What can trigger asthma or make it worse?
  • exercise (cold and dry air)
  • environment (chemicals, fumes, gases, or dust)
  • allergy (pet dander, cockroaches, pollen)
Treatments of asthma include:
  • avoiding and removing triggers (second hand smoke, carpet, pets etc)
  • treating allergies
  • rescue inhaler or nebulizer for acute symptoms
  • maintenance inhaler or other maintenance medications
  • getting the flu shot during flu season
Asthma is not well controlled if:
  • needing rescue inhaler more than twice a week due to symptoms
  • waking up at night more than twice a month due to symptoms
It is important to see your physician if asthma is suspected and to routinely follow up to make sure it is well controlled.  There is a breathing test that can be performed to assess whether or not someone has asthma and also how severe the condition is.  Using a peak flow meter at home will help you know how severe your symptoms are.  Patients with asthma should discuss and develop an Asthma Action Plan with their physician.  Having a plan helps to decrease trips to the emergency room as well as need for inpatient hospitalization.