What Asthma Is
Jennifer Whitney explains what Asthma is and the symptoms that are experienced by an Asthma patient.
Jennifer Whitney: Breathless, could you imagine not being able to breathe. I'm Jennifer Whitney, for the next half hour we'll explore the growing epidemic of asthma here in the valley.
The problem is year around, our summers maybe dreamy but poor air quality coupled with hot temperatures can turn those months into a nightmare for someone with asthma. Fall, brings beautiful colors and cooler weather, the changing season also creates moisture and dampness, adults and children are forced to stay indoors a little more, and with that sometimes comes exposure to molds and dust mites, both can be serious triggers for asthma sufferers.
Asthma threatens a person's ability to take in oxygen. Winter escorts in the wind, the rain, and the flu, things that may not cause serious problems for the rest of us, can provoke airways to constrict in people with asthma, making it difficult to breathe. Risk factors can include something as simple as cold air.
As days grow longer and temperatures warm up, grasses are greening and flowers are blooming. But with that beauty comes a price. Spring is by far the worst season of the year for allergies. And allergies can break havoc for a person with asthma causing wheezing, shortness of breath, and rapid heartbeat. The symptoms can be frightening, devastating, even life threatening.
Jameson Mitchell: I've suffered from pneumonia 3 or 4 times.
Female Speaker: 19-year old Jameson Mitchell has suffered from asthma all of his life.
Jameson Mitchell: There's a lot of difficultly breathing. An asthma attack is really a, a really bad day. It's, sometimes you can't breathe, so.
Female Speaker: For Jameson the doctor's office is a familiar place.
Eric Reininga: My son has a life-long challenge, it's called asthma. He's been dealing with it since he's a little boy. He has had difficulties breathing and at certain times of year, he has difficulty because of the pollens or things he's allergic to. When he was a little boy, I stayed home with him for a month because he had pneumonia.
Female Speaker: This was Jameson a eleven years ago.
Jameson Mitchell: My lungs get clogged up and it's hard to breathe of your, through, out of your mouth and your nose.
Eric Reininga: I had to take him into the doctor. I had to give him nebulizer treatments and his medication, it was a process, it was a good thing I was there, you need a round-the-clock caretaker.
Female Speaker: Tests early on showed Jameson was highly allergic to grasses, trees and pollen. In this valley, allergies are one of the most common causes of asthma. For years Jameson got allergy shots.
Jameson Mitchell: I have had my tonsils and adenoid taken out and I've had my ears tubed as well.
Female Speaker: Dr. Ron Sockolov is Jameson's primary care physician.
Dr. Ron Sockolov: I think he either picked up a virus, he has been treated for bacterial infection. So one of the two organisms has invaded his bronchial tubes has got into the lungs and now has probably triggered a little level of his asthma that causes his wheezing, certainly it's causing the fever.
Female Speaker: For many asthmatics, viral or bacterial infections are other big triggers.
Eric Reininga: I feel that it's not fair, it's not fair that he has to put up with this, he has to deal with this because he has this life-long problem, I don't know how it's going to affect him when he gets older. He caught a little virus, and he ended up on heavy duty antibiotics, he has been sick for over a week, it could have turned into pneumonia he's coughing up blood. I caught a little virus, the same virus, last week, I got a little headache. I got over it. He's not able to do that. It's not fair.
Dr. Ron Sockolov: I'm really concerned about my asthmatic population. So the first thing I'd like him to do, in the fall, is to get that flu shot.
Female Speaker: For years Jameson saw pediatric pulmonologist and allergist Dr. Bradley Chipps.
Dr. Bradley Chipps: Children with asthma have long periods where they're asymptomatic, but during the time of the year when viral infections are prevalent, they're at higher risk for exacerbation.
Female Speaker: Asthma is on the rise, and considered an epidemic. It's a long-term health condition that causes air passages in the lungs to become inflamed, narrowed, even blocked. Patients say it's like breathing through a straw. Symptoms include coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breath, and difficultly breathing and the rare, it can be deadly. The valley we live in is like a bowl that collects pollutants and allergens that just sit. While the valley is beautiful, the air we breathe isn't always good for us. Pollution also causes asthma. So we know asthma is triggered by dirty air, allergens, and viral infections.
Dr. Bradley Chipps: 80% of asthma starts before 5 years of age. It invariably starts with viral infections the bloods causes becomes persistent is the development of allergy. One tries to make a decision about allergy based upon the patient's history, the correlation between exposure to known allergens and increase in symptoms and that can be verified by doing either a blood test or a skin test, which are done in the office.
Female Speaker: Little Camden and Carson are being skin tested for allergies. And allergen extract is applied to tiny scratch or prick of the skin. The red bumps are an indication of allergic reactions.
Dr. Bradley Chipps: If patients did not develop allergy before age 8, they have a 90% chance of outgrowing their viral induced wheezing by the time they reach puberty. So it is a very important concept to keep in mind and also reinforces why early allergy evaluation maybe very helpful in a treatment in the prognostic healing that was going to happen.
Female Speaker: Allergy shots, also called immunotherapy, are sometimes prescribed to help increase a person's tolerance to substances that cause allergy symptoms. Initially shots are given once or twice a week for several months.
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