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Nov 18, 2010

Before an asthma attack, take a deep breath with Healthy Living

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. It manifests itself first among children and flares up with the seasonal changes. Healthy Living this week has helpful tips on how to deal with the condition.

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Asthma is a long term disease, there is no cure. It can only be controlled to lessen the effects. It normally starts in childhood and parents are primarily responsible for managing the treatment for their asthmatic children. Pediatrician Dr Victor Rosado explains that asthmatic patients are most vulnerable around this time of year.

Dr. Victor Rosado, Pediatrician

“Asthma is a recurrent chronic respiratory disease meaning that it stays with you all of your life and it will recur at certain times in the year especially around these months when we start getting cold fronts coming to Belize. A lotta people have influenza and colds and so the respiratory viruses start to affect the general population and that in itself is a trigger for an asthma attack.”

An asthma attack is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms caused by the tightening of muscles around the airways. Sometimes, no matter how careful you may be in taking medicines and avoiding triggers, you may find that you have an asthma attack.

Dr. Victor Rosado

“Most of the time there are warning signs. An attack doesn’t normally, usually just occur. It usually starts as just a simple cold or flu with symptoms comparable to a cold or flu. Which means like a cough, runny nose, persistent cough in the night and tightening of the chest, if those warning signs are not heeded to then you can get a full blown asthma attack.”

Some of the specific symptoms of an attack may include:

  • Severe wheezing when breathing both in and out
  • Coughing that won’t stop
  • Very rapid breathing
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Tightened neck and chest muscles
  • Difficulty talking
  • Feelings of anxiety or panic
  • Pale, sweaty face
  • Blue lips or fingernails
  • worsening of symptoms despite use of medication

Dr. Victor Rosado

victor rosado

“We must remember what is happening in an asthma attack is a triad. We have airway inflammation, over production of mucus and airway tightening. So these 3 components are what are responsible for your asthma attack 4.00 and therefore the treatment should attack these 3 factors. One of the most important way to treat asthma is by using what we called aerosol therapies. Using a nebulizer or using your small little meter-dose inhaler which is portable and you can carry that around with you. that is probably the single most effective ways of dealing with an an attack.”

Parents and family members of asthmatic persons should also be aware of the nearest clinic or emergency room in the event that regular treatment does not work. However, the goal for any person living with asthma should be to control as much as possible the frequency of attacks.

Dr. Victor Rosado

“People like to believe that if the child is not wheezing then the asthma symptoms or the asthma has not been established. But wheezing is one of the last symptoms that we want to see in a child. That child that is going to the emergency room or that person who has to visit he emergency room at the Karl Heusner or other hospitals once a week or once every two weeks definitely is having uncontrolled asthma. The key here is to talk to your physician. Know what treatment options are available to you and start them early and if you can do that then you actually avoid emergency room visits. Remember what I said that a person who is well treatment for his asthma should have minimal visits to the emergency room for attacks.”

Dr Rosado emphasizes the importance of recognizing triggers. Also, paying attention to the early signs of an attack and treating early. Also, pay attention the seasonal changes as they play a large role in the frequency of attacks.

Dr. Victor Rosado

“I think that a  lot of people are reluctant to accept the diagnosis of asthma. Parents really do not want to accept that the child has asthma. Asthma is on the rise in Belize and worldwide because of environmental factors.  In Belize, the worse time is starting around October. The temperature start to dip and sometimes more importantly that cold weather are the changes in temperature. And that runs all the way up until march of the next year. most of the time children who have asthma the best month for them are between April and September, they can come off of their medication but for sure come October most of the signs will start. Most of the time if you are diagnosed with asthma, it is something you’ll have to cope with for the rest of your life.”

Rosado’s final advice to parents is to focus on prevention to take control of the asthma.

Dr. Victor Rosado

“You should try to establish if it is asthma or not and if it is then knowledgeable about the disease. Know what are the triggers in your child and start treatment early top prevent asthma attacks. I think that is the single most important thing that parents should know.”

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