One in 10 Texas children has asthma, including approximately 90,000 in North Texas. It is the most common chronic condition affecting kids under 18 in the U.S. and among the top five reasons for emergency department visits in most pediatric centers—including Children’s Medical Center Dallas. However, it is also a condition that can be easily managed.
If families learn how to properly manage their child’s asthma, they can not only save thousands of dollars, but also control the symptoms of asthma. May is Asthma Awareness Month, encouraging those with asthma to take control of their condition. Management requires ongoing education and daily attention to signs and symptoms. Consider the following facts about asthma:
Genetics play a strong role. One in six African-American children has asthma, and genetics play a strong role in family history of the disease. While research is still being conducted as to why, current data and research has revealed that African-American children, regardless of family income, reported higher rates of asthma. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention 2015 data, African-American children are four times more likely to die from asthma than Caucasian children, and they are three times as likely to be hospitalized for it.
In order to help children, parents need to know their child’s triggers and how to avoid them. Many are surprised to learn that nine of the 12 most common asthma triggers are found in the majority of households—including pet dander, dust mites, roach droppings and even household cleaning products. A home may be making a child’s symptoms worse, and a few simple changes can make a world of difference. Removing mold from around bath tile and other surfaces, changing your A/C filters every three months, reducing the amount of carpet in the home, using all-natural cleaners free from strong odor, and removing candles/air fresheners are just a few of the things that can reduce asthma trigger exposure.
Despite popular belief, no one can outgrow asthma. Asthma is a chronic disease of the lungs that does not “go away” with age. Many asthmatics gain better control of their asthma through medications. As a child grows, their lung capacity increases and certain triggers may not affect their asthma or cause the same level of reaction. People become accustomed to their allergy exposures and may not react quite as badly; however, anyone who has asthma needs to be aware that they are susceptible to an attack.
If not treated properly, asthma can be life-threatening. With guidance from parents, clinicians and physicians, following an asthma action plan—which serves as a road map to manage signs and symptoms—can help children to proactively take control of their condition.
To help families learn to manage their children’s asthma, Children’s Health is the only Joint Commission certified North Texas provider offering home assessments through the Asthma Management Program. For no cost, a certified asthma educator can assess a home for possible asthma triggers and discuss ways to mitigate those triggers while explaining how to develop an asthma action plan. Each family is given an asthma tool kit and receives age-specific asthma education within the home. Additionally, through the Asthma Management Program, each caregiver receives ongoing family contact and reinforcement education with our team of nurses and respiratory therapists.
Children’s Health is also the first in North Texas and first pediatric hospital to pilot Propeller, a Bluetooth inhaler. With a sensor and software system that helps monitor a child’s asthma medication, Propeller allows parents to track location, time and weather conditions (very important due to the high ozone days in Texas), as well as send information directly to your Children’s Health care coordinator via a HIPAA-secure connection.
Our research and programs have shown that proper management of asthma nets real results. The Asthma Management Program has shown a 62 percent reduction in asthma-related inpatient admissions, 33 percent improvement in trigger mitigation, and 91 percent increase in asthma quality of life scores—empowering them take control of their own health.
Pam Rogers is director of the Asthma Management Program at Children’s Health, the first program in Texas and one of only three in the nation to be awarded disease-specific care certification for pediatric asthma by the Joint Commission. A registered respiratory therapist, Rogers has worked in hospital settings for 20 years and holds a master’s degree in business administration. She joined Children’s Health in 2001.