|One of the keys to effective asthma treatment is asthma
education - not just for the patient but for everyone involved
in his or her life. Rather than treating asthma like a string of
isolated asthma attacks, doctors are now treating asthma as a
chronic condition that is affected by nearly every aspect of the
patient's life. Instead of focusing on acute care intervention,
doctors now focus on daily management, medication and monitoring
to help minimize symptoms of asthma and lessen the severity of
asthma attacks when they do happen.
Asthma education is a key part of that management. By teaching
the patient and his family how to monitor his own condition,
what causes flare-ups of symptoms and how to avoid them, doctors
can reduce the number of hospitalizations and emergency room
visits due to asthma. Using a peak flow meter, an asthmatic can
keep track of his lung capacity - and seek appropriate treatment
if it wanders into the danger zone. Education about asthma can
impress upon him the importance of measuring every day - and
keeping careful records.
Extending that education into the community can literally save
your child's life. Something as simple as spending an hour with
a third grade class to show them how to help someone having an
asthma attack can pay back unexpected dividends. After all,
wouldn't you rather know that all of your child's classmates
will recognize an asthma attack - and do the right thing when
they see one?
The administration of your child's school is another place where
asthma education can pay off big dividends. Many schools still
don't understand how vital it is that a child with asthma has
his inhaler with him at all times. When schools deny an
asthmatic child his right to carry his inhaler for fear that
other children will find a way to abuse it, the results can be
disastrous. Making the effort to do a bit of advocacy and asthma
education can literally make the difference between life and
Community asthma education can also make a big difference in
whether or not children with asthma are properly diagnosed. Many
people still don't recognize the symptoms of asthma unless they
see an acute attack - but mild asthma, and the symptoms of
chronic asthma can be devastating to a child's life. Chronic
respiratory illnesses, bronchitis, pneumonia and chest pain can
keep children out of school and in the emergency room. By
educating the community through public service announcements,
school outreach programs, clinic visits and physician
incentives, many children with hidden asthma can be reached and
treated, reducing the overall costs of health care as well as
improving the individual child's health.
Like diabetes education ten years ago, asthma education today
can help alert parents, identify those who suffer from asthma
and make sure that appropriate treatment is available to
everyone who needs it. This is especially important in the case
of childhood asthma, where the diagnoses and treatments and
standards of care so often seem to be inequitable. Asthma
education can help ensure that all parents are aware of the
standard of treatment that their children SHOULD be getting -
which is the first step to ensuring that the children get the
care that they require.
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