By D. Devine
Director of Cardiopulmonary – Licensed Respiratory Care Practitioner Forks Community Hospital
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
• Each day, ten Americans die from asthma, and in 2015, 3,615 people died from asthma. Many of these deaths are avoidable with proper treatment and care.
• Adults are four times more likely to die from asthma than children.
• Women are more likely to die from asthma than men and boys are more likely than girls.
• African-Americans are three times more likely to die from asthma.
The Asthma and Alergy Foundation of America stated:
• More than 60 million Americans overall have asthma and allergies.
• About 26 million Americans have asthma (19 million adults and 6.2 million children)
• About 32 million Americans have food allergies (26 million adults and 6 million children)
• About 21 million Americans have hayfever, rhinitis or nasal allergies (20 million adults and 5.6 million children)
And numbers from The American Lung Association showed that:
• More than 26 million Americans have asthma. This is 8.3 percent of adults and 8.3 percent of children. Asthma has been increasing since the early 1980s in all age, sex and racial groups.
• 1 in 13 people have asthma.
These are staggering statistics provided that many of these deaths may have been preventable.
According to the American Lung Association:
• An asthma trigger is a thing, activity, or condition that makes asthma worse. When you encounter a trigger it can cause a sudden worsening of symptoms, often called an asthma attack, episode, or flare-up.
• Common asthma triggers include respiratory infections, allergens, irritants, exercise, and emotions. Knowing what causes your asthma symptoms is an important step toward controlling your asthma. Allergy testing may help you identify your triggers. Your healthcare provider can help you recognize what makes your asthma worse, and help find simple solutions to reduce and avoid asthma triggers.
Other Asthma Triggers:
• Medical Conditions
• Food & Medicines
• Weather, Pollen & Air Pollution
• Strong Odors
What can I do to help my asthma?
Doug Devine – LRCP, RPSGT and Director of Cardiopulmonary at Forks Community Hospital states that, “Education is the key to managing your Asthma attacks. Always have your rescue inhaler with you and use a spacer. Use a peak flowmeter to monitor your airflow and keep a daily diary. Always be aware of things that may trigger your asthma, such as the environment or exercise.”
Doug also lists other things that may exacerbate a patient’s asthma that many people are not aware of. “Dry cold air or water can make a patient’s asthma worse. Cold causes bronchoconstriction in the lungs, narrowing the airways. Often people with asthma that take Albuterol or Duoneb treatments have a tendency to get thirsty after their treatments. This is due to the fact that there is saline or basically salt water that is used as a diluent in their hand held breathing treatments. The first thing they usually do is to go get a large cold glass or bottle of ice water to quench their thirst, which can then start the cycle all over again and make things worse.”
“When I perform pulmonary function tests on patient’s here at the hospital with lung problems, we try to identify any potential triggers or irritants that may be present in the patient’s environment. I also try to educate them on three known triggers that are very common.”
It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…
1) “Wash all bedding especially your pillow cases with hot water. Hot water wash of at least 120 degrees is needed to kill dust mites which can trigger exacerbations. Everyone has dust mites in their homes and you lay your head down on the pillow at night and can breathe them in which can cause you problems.”
2) “Never keep your pets in your bedroom where you sleep. They can bring is dust, dander, pollens, mold and mildew. We had 3 large dogs that slept in our bedroom and made my asthma worse. My doctor told me to get them out when my asthma got worse. It wasn’t easy, and they did not like it, but we put their pillows just outside the bedroom door with a baby gate and fed them treats at night while they were getting used to it. They did and my asthma got better.”
3) “When your breathing is bad try and drink room temperature water. Refrain from grabbing that cold can of pop out of the refrigerator. I keep a case of room temp water in the laundry room at all times. When you go outside in cold weather, wear a scarf over your mouth and nose to help warm the air when you breathe. Hot coffee, tea or maybe a tasty cup of hot chocolate with your spouse, kids or grandchildren will also work to warm the air into your lungs on that cold snowy day… And who doesn’t like hot chocolate?”
To find out more about Asthma awareness month please visit www.lung.org (American Lung Association) or www.aafa.org (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America) to learn more.