Hospital class helps asthma sufferers with coping skillsWritten by Allison Wingate | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Jenna Biggs is no ordinary girl.
Every day, the 11-year-old fights a continuous battle against asthma, an affliction she has suffered from since she was a baby.
In fact, her whole family is affected by it, her father has had asthma since a child and her mother developed it in her 20s.
The chronic condition affects nearly 6.8 million children under the age of 18 in the United States and accounts for one of the most common causes of school absenteeism, according to the American Lung Association. The association concludes that asthma is the third-leading cause in hospitalization in children under 15 with the highest prevalence rate seen in children ages 5 to 17.
But asthma education classes at the Toledo Hospital have helped Jenna get a handle on her treatments and eased her worry about attacks, keeping her in school and active.
ProMedica Asthma Educator Mary Beth Shearman taught Jenna how to notice warning signs and how to administer her own medication. Shearman also helped Jenna come up with a “plan of action” for when she is experiencing an attack to help her choose what medications she needs to take and when.
Among some factors that trigger Jenna’s asthma are secondhand smoke, cold weather and air pollution. Seasonal triggers are pollen and humidity. When she feels an attack approaching, she has a difficult time breathing and experiences wheezing and coughing. She covers her mouth to avoid these triggers.
Jenna uses preventative medicines Advair and Singulair on a daily basis and uses her “puffer” of albuterol as needed.
“I take them in the morning and at night every single day.” she said, “Sometimes they work; sometimes they don’t.”
Her mother Lori, a registered nurse, appreciates the extra help the classes gave her, she said.
“As a mom, when you’re working and taking care of other children, it’s hard to give care to her as much as she needs,” she said. “They have a special way of helping kids individually with real family-centered care.”
Despite her asthma, Jenna is active and continues to enjoy her hobbies of swimming and horseback riding. She simply takes precautions to avoid any factors that would trigger an attack, a lesson she learned from an instructional video in asthma education class, she said.
“It doesn’t really bother me anymore,” Jenna said.
Jenna has reassuring advice for other children who have asthma.
“You shouldn’t be afraid if you have your medicine,” Jenna said. “Don’t be afraid to use it.”
Shearman hopes more asthma patients will take advantage of their follow-up care programs.
“It’s very important for children and adults with asthma to keep in close contact with their physician and to get the testing they need to get. We have any number of programs to help people with whatever need they have, be it pulmonary-function testing or smoking cessation classes.”
For more information, call the Asthma Education Department at the Toledo Hospital at (419) 291-5474.