Come learn about childhood asthmaPublished 12:00am Monday, November 8, 2010
Last spring, I was asked to do a presentation to the students of one of the local elementary schools about smoking. As a respiratory therapist, I realize that secondhand smoke is one of the leading triggers for asthma attacks, so I asked the children to raise their hands if they have asthma. I was shocked at the response. At least half of the children raised their hands. I turned to the school nurse, and she confirmed that most of the children who responded did have asthma. The next question was even more frightening: How many of you who have asthma have family members who smoke in your house? Almost all of the children raised their hands.
Here are some facts about childhood asthma according to the American Lung Association:
47.1 million children under 18 have asthma in the USA; over half had an asthma attack in 2009
4400,000 to 1 million have their condition worsened by exposure to secondhand smoke
4In 2006, 131 children under the age of 15 died from asthma
4In 2005, there were 679,000 emergency room visits due to asthma
4Asthma is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism. In 2008, an estimated 14.4 million lost school days for children were reported.
In 30 years as a respiratory therapist, some of the most difficult cases I have been involved were patients with asthma (both children and adults) who had stopped breathing or even worse went into cardiopulmonary arrest. The patient’s airways were so obstructed that it was nearly impossible to breathe for them. Unfortunately, there were patients that we were unable to ventilate, and we were unable to save them. In every case, the patient was either noncompliant or complacent in their disease management.
The good news is the number of deaths and hospitalizations have decreased since 1999, because of improved asthma education, improved medications and management of the disease. Children with asthma can live a normal and active life with proper disease management, but it takes dedicated and compliant parents and patients to keep the disease under control.
The school nurses and Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s Respiratory Care Program will be presenting a free seminar on childhood asthma at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Steckler Multipurpose Center at Natchez High School. The seminar will provide parents information about the disease process, signs and symptoms of an attack, triggers of asthma attacks, monitoring their child, and medications’ purpose and proper use. The seminar will also be informative for teachers and coaches.
For more information about the seminar and to register, contact your child’s school nurse.
Walt Wilson is the program director for Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s Respiratory Care Technology Program.