By Reann Huber
Due to concerns from parents and an increase of students visiting their nurse’s office, MCES held a class this past week with a certified asthma educator from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) to inform parents on what triggers asthma in their children, as well as ways they could prevent asthma attacks.
Ginger Tuminello, program manager at CHOA, discussed that asthma can be diagnosed at any age, but 80% of people diagnosed with asthma have symptoms develop before age 5 and 10% of kids are affected by asthma in Georgia.
“[Asthma] tends to run in families,” Tuminello said. “In kids, it’s more likely for boys to have asthma than girls, and in adults it’s more likely for women to have it than men.” Tuminello stressed that one of the most important things you could do for your kids is identify the triggers they have, as they all vary from person to person. Common triggers include exercise, emotions, infections, scented sprays, and especially pollen. One of the most common triggers for almost all asthmatics is cigarette smoke, or other type of smoke, including barbeque, campfires, and burning leaves. “We can prevent [symptoms] and we can control them, but we cannot cure them,” Tuminello told parents.
During an actual attack, the inside of the lungs’ airways swells, and as it swells the muscles on the outside of the airways squeeze making it even harder for air to pass through. These symptoms will continue unless treated by medication. There are two main types of medicine that help directly treat asthma. One is for quick relief and the other is a controller medicine. The quick relief medicine should be with your child at all times no matter where they are, as it relaxes the muscle on the outside of the airways to quickly treat symptoms, but it is not used for daily treatment. All quick relief medicines contain Albuterol.“What we teach parents is Albuterol starts with a-l, always have it with you,” said Tuminello. “This is the medicine that treats your symptoms. This is the medicine that will save your life if you’re having a life-threatening attack.”
Controllers are meant for long-term treatment to prevent symptoms. It is used everyday to relieve the swelling enough so when the airways are triggered, they do not close all the way. Tuminello told parents that their children should not be limited by their asthma and with working with their pediatricians or healthcare providers, they should be able to find a balance for their children where their asthma is not a continuous problem.