Apr. 1, 1999 Get Ready for Camp: Sleeping Bag, Check; Bug Spray, Check; Asthma Action Plan, Check!
DENVER-An asthma action plan is one of the most important things the parent of a child with the disease can pack away in a duffel bag for summer camp this year.
“The biggest mistake that’s made is when children are sent to camp and no one is told they have asthma,” explains Epi Mazzei, R.N., manager of LUNG LINE at National Jewish Medical and Research Center. “Make sure that the camp nurse has a copy of the asthma action plan and knows the steps to take for emergency treatment.”
Along with telling camp counselors a child has asthma, an asthma action plan provides written instructions on how to treat asthma if it becomes an emergency. With the help of the child’s doctor, a parent can write an asthma action plan, which typically includes the child’s asthma triggers, asthma early warning signs and what to do in an emergency.
Asthma triggers vary by person, but at camp, common triggers can include exercise; molds and pollens; perfume, cologne and strong odors; trees and grasses; insect stings; and animal dander, including that from dogs, horses and cats.
For children whose asthma is triggered by exercise, pretreatment--an important way to prevent exercise-induced asthma attack--may be necessary before hiking, swimming and other strenuous activities. Parents should check with camp administrators on their policy of allowing children to keep medication with them. LUNG LINE recommends that a child with asthma carry a “rescue” inhaler, used for quick relief of symptoms such as wheezing, coughing or chest tightness.
Parents, for more information on childhood asthma and asthma action plans, call LUNG LINE, 800-222-LUNG.
The Grass isn’t Always Greener, Especially when using a Gas-Powered Lawnmower
DENVER-A lush, green lawn is an American tradition. Getting it that way can take a toll on people with lung diseases, particularly the ones pushing gas lawnmowers.
Gas lawnmowers, generally powered by two-cycle and four-cycle engines, create a significant amount of pollution, such as hydrocarbons, which react to outside air and create ground-level ozone, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.
These gases can increase symptoms in people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, allergies, emphysema and other lung diseases. For example, at ground level ozone can decrease lung function by combining with other pollutants, says Karin Pacheco, M.D., of the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at National Jewish Medical and Research Center. Pollution may increase the development of allergies, she adds.
Lawn and lawnmower alternatives that cut pollution include using native plants for landscaping, using an electric or push mower, and limiting planting areas for lawns.
For more information about air pollution and lung disease, call LUNG LINE, 800-222-LUNG.
Summer’s Coming and the Living is Easy, If you know how to Control your Allergies
DENVER-Summer is coming. Are you prepared with more than sunblock and cool drinks? Allergy and asthma attacks can spoil summer fun, but they can be prevented with a little planning.
Tree and grass pollens are only a few of the many allergens that can trigger severe attacks. Different trees pollinate throughout the spring and summer, and the months they pollinate vary from tree to tree. Last year, El Nino caused an earlier and more intense pollination season in most trees, grasses and weeds. This year is looking to be much the same.
“If one is sensitive, be careful,” says Richard Weber, M.D., a National Jewish Medical and Research Center allergist. “Hayfever sufferers may do better at the shore, since the wind often blows in from the sea. Or one can head for the mountains, where pollen counts tend to be lower. Fox example, there’s little to no ragweed in the Colorado Rockies.”
Here are a few tips:
- When you know where you will be traveling, find out which plants will be pollinating. For example, Hawaii has grass pollination year round.
- Southern states typically have the longest pollination period. Grasses pollinate 10-11 months of the year.
- Trees pollinate early, but have limited seasons. For example, Elm trees pollinate for 2-3 weeks. The exception to this is a milder winter, which can cause pollination to peak higher and last longer.
- Know when the plants that trigger your allergies are in bloom and avoid visiting at that time of year. Time your trip to coincide with low pollen levels.
- If traveling by car, close the windows and use the air conditioner.
- Fill any allergy and asthma prescriptions before leaving home.
For more information about allergies and summer travel, call LUNG LINE, 800-222-LUNG.
Respiratory Problems from Air Pollution Heat Up when Summer Warms Up
DENVER-“Every day, we produce air pollution,” says Karin Pacheco, M.D., of the Division of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at National Jewish Medical and Research Center. “But it’s really a problem if it just sits there.”
Air pollution does sit there in major cities like Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver and Mexico City, which are situated in valleys. In cities like Denver or Tucson, Ariz., surrounding mountains trap pollution over the city. Picture these cities in the bottom of a deep bowl where pollution is trapped by the high sides.
Even living downwind of a major city won’t help your health. Pushed by winds from one area to the next, pollution can cause respiratory problems as it moves. Air pollution has been shown to cause asthma attacks in some people. Air pollution also has been shown to cause flares of chronic bronchitis, to increase cardiorespiratory sickness and death, to increase use of asthma medications and lower lung function.
Often, symptoms associated with these diseases take days to develop. “You may have a severe pollution day,” says Dr. Pacheco, “and you’re out in the thick of it, but it may not bother you until several days later when your asthma flares.”
Microscopic particulates, small enough to be breathed into the lungs and “sticky” enough to attract pollens and other allergens, and ozone help cause asthma and allergy attacks, and make other lung diseases more severe.
“There are a few things you can do to lower your risk,” Dr. Pacheco says. “Be aware of high pollution days, check the Environmental Protection Agency and your local health department’s Web sites, avoid congested areas where pollution sits, and get active in your community by promoting good public transportation, alternative fuels and carpooling.”
Cities with major highways and high-volume traffic often have the worst air pollution. “The biggest contributor to air pollution is car exhaust,” Dr. Pacheco says, and pollution is usually the most severe from 8-11 a.m. on weekdays.
Air pollution consists of carbon monoxide gas, nitrogen dioxide gas, sulfur dioxide gas, volatile organic compounds, particulates and lead particles, which are regulated by the EPA. These chemicals are byproducts of burning fossil fuels.
Levels of air pollutants are government regulated, but periodically cities exceed the allowed limits.
For more information about air pollution and respiratory disease, call LUNG LINE, 800-222-LUNG.
National Jewish Medical and Research Center has been ranked as the number one hospital in the United States for respiratory diseases by U.S. News & World Report, 1998-1999.
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