Importance of Asthma education

The importance of control medications
Although most folks reach for the quick relief of an Albuterol pump to stem the immediate symptoms of an attack, too many fail to approach the problem from a preventative wellness perspective that relies, in great part, on the use of daily control medications. I ask parents at workshops all the time “How many of you have high blood pressure?” and their hands all go up. Then I ask “How many of you take medication every day for the high blood pressure?” and their hands go up. Then I ask “How many of you have symptoms every day of your high blood pressure?” No hands go up, because their daily controller medicines work. Then I explain it’s the same thing with asthma.

Amy Burack, RN, MA, AE C, Former Community Asthma Programs Manager


Asthma attacks are only the tip of the iceberg
I don’t think that in this country asthma is accepted as a chronic condition. For hypertension, for example, it is accepted that your doctor will give you medicine and you actually should take it all the time (even though perhaps you don’t). There seems to be more reluctance to do that for asthma – many people, including doctors, view it as an episodic problem. What is not realized is that for the many who have asthma it’s a continuum, and what they see during an asthma attack is really only the tip of the iceberg. It’s amazing how often you will treat children and adults who have asthma and come in thinking they don’t have a chronic condition, then advise them to take medication regularly the next month or two and when they return they say “Gee, I didn’t realize I was limited before. I am doing much better, and I feel better.”

Frank Twarog, MD, PhD, Allergist


Parent education workshops
I do a lot of parent education workshops. I try to engage parents in conversations that make them feel comfortable enough to share information about themselves and their kids. I ask them “Tell me how asthma affects your lives and the lives of your children. What questions do you have that I can help you with?” There’s never enough time in an office visit for the doctor to prepare and explain an asthma management plan in enough detail so you understand it all – what all the prescribed medications are about; delivery devices and the appropriate way to use them; next steps to take when your child is not feeling well.   Asthma is about education – and more education. Encouraging parents to learn as much as they can about their children’s asthma can be done in a variety of ways and locations- through workshops at the child’s preschool or Head Start; at the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club; at church or social gathering places.

Amy Burack, RN, MA, AE C, Former Community Asthma Programs Manager