May 10, 2004
The following post was
taken from an asthma message board in the United Kingdom:
"Posted on Monday, February 23, 2004 - 02:20 pm:
can i have sum help with a prob please?when i have an asthma attack
at school (very often) after sport or even just in the classroom
sometimes, my friends and da teacher dont notice. i dont know what
to do, cos i cant breave, but i dont wanna make a fuss. what do
i do? please help, cos sometimes no one notices till ive collapsed,
and now im scared?
Here in the United States:
"The current asthma prevalence rate for boys aged 0-17 years
(99 per 1,000) was over 30% higher than the rate among girls
(74 per 1,000)."
In a class of 30 students,
you could expect to find two or three students who have been diagnosed
historically important persons, suffered or are suffering from Asthma.
Ludwig von Beethoven (composer)
Charles Dickens (author)
Marcel Proust (french novelist)
Edith Wharton (author)
Theodore Roosevelt (26th president of the U.S)
Woodrow Wilson (28th president of the U.S.)
John F.Kennedy (35th president of the U.S)
Elizabeth Taylor (actress)
Alice Cooper (rock singer)
Martin Scoresese (film director)
Dennis Rodman (basketball player)"
Chances are, you know someone
with asthma. You may not know that the boy sitting next to you in
math has been hospitalized twice and has dealt with asthma for as
long as he can remember. You may not know that the girl with the
locker next to yours takes medication every morning in order to
keep her asthma under control. Or, it may be you.
"Coolio answers your asthma questions:
Q. When did you realize you had asthma?
A. 'When I was a little kid. I dont remember not having asthma.
Asthma was a stress- induced thing for me. And it was an every day
thing. It was something I lived with, but it wasnt a big deal.
I still played sports, but I would just have attacks and have to
be hospitalized every now and then. I knew it wasnt normal,
but it was normal for me.'
Q. What was it like growing up with asthma?
A. 'It was hard. People in my family would tell me I couldnt
do things and kids would tease me. When I first started playing
sports, coaches didnt want to give me a chance. I had to prove
myself twice as much to make the team or get to play. I just ignored
the kids who teased me.'"
Sometimes, being different
can be difficult.
"Because of the restrictions
asthma can place on their lives, teens with asthma may feel that
they are different from their friends, classmates, and teammates.
Some people may feel weird about taking daily medication or
using inhalers, spacers (a mouthpiece or mask device that helps
make inhalers more effective or easier to use), or peak flow meters
(a small handheld device that measures the airflow exhaled from
the lungs) in front of others. And if a person's asthma is
aggravated by pets such as dogs or cats, he or she might have to
turn down invites to visit the homes of friends with those pets.
People who play sports might find that asthma causes further aggravation.
When asthma flares up, it may mean ending a practice early or pulling
out of a game. Sometimes team members with asthma will have to sit on
the sidelines for a few days until their symptoms go away and they're
feeling better. People react in different ways to the problems that
asthma brings to their lives. Some stay away from all physical activities,
even those approved by their doctors, because they are worried about
having a flare. Others may find that asthma is a convenient excuse
to get out of chores or gym class. And some people may deny they
have asthma at all and may forget or refuse to take the medications
that can control it."
Whatever your position
(you have asthma, you have a friend with asthma, or you don't know
of anyone with asthma--but it's just never come up in conversation
with anyone at school or work), asthma is prevalent. Even if it
has not yet touched your life, odds are it will.
So, what is it?
"Asthma is a disease
in which the airways become blocked or narrowed. These effects are
usually temporary, but they cause shortness of breath, breathing
trouble, and other symptoms. If an asthma episode is severe,
a person may need emergency treatment to restore normal breathing.
More than an estimated 17 million people in the United States have
asthma. This health problem is the reason for nearly half a million
hospital stays each year."
For asthma illustrations,
visit MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia:
Lots of people have asthma.
How serious is it, really?
"Asthma accounts for
14 million lost days of school missed annually. Asthma is the third-ranking
cause of hospitalization among those younger than 15 years of age.
The number of children dying from asthma increased almost threefold
from 93 in 1979 to 266 in 1996."
More and more children
are dieing from asthma. While some kids and teens are still shy
about letting others know--still more have let people know only
to end up frustrated.
"...Thanks to letters
from my parents and hospital doctors I'm allowed to sit out whenever
I want and I don't even have to do PE if I don't feel up to it.
The teachers are always asking if I'm ok and they tell me to sit
down and have a rest when they notice I'm struggling. I hate them
doing that. Ok, so they're probably right, sometimes I should stop
but I'm a really competitive person (as I said in my other post)
and I can't stand having to sit out. I think I scare them a lot
coz I've left so many PE lessons in an ambulance."
Not only do some with asthma
struggle to get those in their lives to take their disease seriously,
still other asthmatics forget (or choose not) to take it seriously
More from Coolio:
"'About 12 years ago, I was doing really bad, getting sick
all the time. I had lost control of the disease and had an episode.
I couldnt breathe and passed out in the bathroom. I woke up
on the floor, and went outside and ended up pulling myself down
the street to the hospital and someone picked me up along the way
and gave me a ride. It was pretty scary. After that, I got super
serious about taking care of myself and went to see specialists
and started taking medication. Ive had my asthma under control
for the last eight years with no emergency or hospital visits, just
regular check ups. Im taking my medications. The new medications
are really a lot different from what I grew up on. The new generation
of meds are amazing and they work. Today, I work out, I rap, I run
around on stage, play basketball, swim, snowboard. I do everything.'"
Questions of the Week:
Some people want to be treated differently. Some people don't. What
about the asthmatic in your life? What about you?
If you have asthma: What
do you need to know and do to help keep it under control? What should
your friends, family, coworkers, teachers, and classmates know about
your asthma so that they can best help you safely participate in
as many activities as possible? What should people (friends, family,
coworkers, teachers, classmates, etc.) know about your condition
ahead of time, so that they can best help you if you have an episode
and are unable to communicate your needs? What do you wish everyone
knew about asthma?
If you know somwone with
asthma (if you go to school or work, odds are that you know someone
with asthma): What do you need to know and do so that you can best
help this person safely participate in as many activities as possible?
What should you know about asthma (specifically, the condition of
the asthmatic in your life) so that you can best help this person
if they have an episode and are unable to communicate their immediate
needs? What else do you want to know about life with asthma? What
else should you know?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum