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Asthma a Growing Concern

Asthma a Growing Concern

By Patricia A Harrison, RN-BSN Student, UMKC School of Nursing

Overview

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airway which makes breathing difficult due narrowing or obstruction of the airway.   The inflammation leads to recurrent episodes of asthma symptoms: cough, chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of air.  Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood and can occur at any age irrespective of ethnicity.   According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (Center of Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2013) over 23 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with Asthma.  This disease is very disruptive, affecting school and work attendance, occupational choices, physical activity and general quality of life.  Allergy is the strongest predisposing factor for asthma.  Asthma can have serious implication on the financial resources of family and public health related to higher insurance premiums and lost productivity.   The US Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) estimates that asthma accounts for $20.7 billion of the annual health care cost. Healthy People 2020 goal is to reduce/prevent asthma through prevention, detection, treatment and education efforts over the next ten years (USDHHS, 2013).

Contributory factor to asthma symptoms

Hereditary (genetics) are the most common predisposing factors to acquiring asthma. An asthma attack can be triggered something the body is allergic to most generally something environmental.    Allergens may include animal dander, feathers, house dust mites, cockroaches and rodents, pollen (from grass, tress or flowers), mold and food.  Other triggers include exposure to tobacco smoke, perfumes, indoor and outdoor pollutants/irritants, certain health conditions and medications (Williams, Schmidt, Redd & Storm, 2003).  Exercise, colds and infections are also triggers to asthma symptoms.  As the winter approaches think ahead and take action to prevent asthma symptoms.

What can be done to decrease asthma symptoms?

As a community, we can play a significant part in decreasing this trend.  We can encourage smokers to quit or not to light up in public places which limit secondary exposure.   In addition you can voice you concerns to your local and state representatives to legislate for ordinances that prohibit smoking in public places.  Report leaks and mold to landlords to ensure prompt repair and removal.  Limit outdoor burning as this affect air quality. Homeowners undertake repairs promptly and service furnace regularly to ensure removal of allergen/irritants and promote good indoor air quality.  Residents can keep windows and doors closed to prevent pollen from entering and avoid line drying clothes. 

Individual Action to prevent asthma symptoms

It is essential that individuals diagnosed with asthma are assessed and monitored on a regular basis.  Assessment will ensure prompt and appropriate treatment of asthma condition/symptoms.  Medication can be very effective in the treatment and control of asthma symptoms; these may include long term control and quick relief medications.  It is important to pay particular attention to the education provided for management of asthma.  Education may include a written asthma management plan and routine self management education on correct technique for inhalers, spacers, peak flow monitoring and nebulizer usage as well as factors that can worsen asthma symptoms.  Avoid use of feather pillows and cover mattress and pillows in a dust proof cover, as well as wash bedding at least once per week at 130 degree Fahrenheit and keep stuffed animals off the bed.

In summary, asthma is a disease that affects people of all ages and ethnicity.   It is important that triggers are removed from the environment and medication is taken as ordered to maintain stability or prevent illness.  Individuals diagnosed with asthma should adhere to education and teaching to decrease loss of productivity and work and school absences. The simple steps outlined above will help achieve the Healthy People 2020 goal and decrease the financial burden of this growing health problem.

 References

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).(2013). Data and Surveillance. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/asthmadata.htm

Children’s Mercy Hosiptals and Clinics.  1995-2011. What is Asthma. www.childrensmercy.org/content/view.aspx?id.

US. Department of Health and Human Services (2013) Healthy People 2020: Respiratory Diseases. http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/overview.aspx?topicid=36

Williams, S. G., Schmidt, D.K., Redd, S.C. & Storm, W. (2003) Key clinical activities for quality asthma care. Recommendations of the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program.   Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Vol.52. No RR-6 March 28, 2003. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/ asthma/asthgdln.pdf).

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