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Archive for Tuesday, April 20, 1999

PRESENTATION HELPS PARENTS BREATHE EASIER ABOUT ASTHMA

April 20, 1999

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The program was held in response to the February death from asthma of a 12-year-old sixth-grader at Kennedy school.

While asthma can be deadly if left untreated, 15 percent of Olympic medal winners have it, as do other athletes.

"Asthma definitely isn't a chronic, debilitating illness," said Dr. Ron Weiner, an asthma/allergy specialist and president of the American Lung Association of Kansas.

"Asthma is a reversible airway obstruction. You have to treat the inflammation," he said.

Weiner made the remarks during a presentation on asthma, what parents can do to recognize it and how to help children who have it.

The program, sponsored by the lung association and Lawrence public schools, was held at the Lawrence Public Library, Seventh and Vermont. About 30 people attended.

The program was held in response to the February death from asthma of a 12-year-old sixth-grader at Kennedy school, said Judy Keller, executive director of the lung association.

She said that while there are about 1,500 people who have received diagnoses of asthma in Douglas County, an estimated three times that many may have it.

Weiner said that a majority of children who have asthma also have allergies.

He also said that fancy air filters and vacuums are ineffective in reducing dust and mold that could aggravate asthmatic conditions. And vaporizers can make life harder on children with asthma because mold reproduces in a moist atmosphere, he said.

"Removing carpeting helps. " Washing sheets and pillow cases helps," Weiner said.

In addition to Weiner, Lt. David Rector of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical spoke at the meeting. He said parents should call for an ambulance if they believe their child is having serious breathing

problems.

"We can start the treatment; the main thing is to call us right away," Rector said.

Many parents who have children with asthma attended the program.

Brenda Frei, who has two sons and a daughter with asthma, said the most difficult part for her in dealing with it is "the fear that asthma can even cause death."

Colette Vann, whose son also has asthma, said sometimes children don't tell adults when they are having problems.

"If they're having a hard time breathing, they have to let somebody know," she said.

-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.



WARNING SIGNS

According to the American Lung Assn., parents should look for the following early warning signs for asthma:

  • Unusual paleness or swelling.
  • Flared nostrils when the child tries to get some air.
  • Fast breathing and fatigue that isn't related to working or playing hard.
  • Hunched-over body posture; the child can't stand or sit straight and can't relax.
  • Watch the notch just above the child's Adam's apple; when some children are having an asthma episode, this notch sinks in as they breath in.

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