Local News

WakeMed Program Helps Children Breathe Easier

Posted May 3, 2004

— Take a deep breath. No big deal right? For people with asthma it is not always that easy.

About nine million children in the United States -- have asthma, and that number continues to rise. With the right treatment, asthma is a disease they can manage easily.

Jo Dunn, 5, is proud of his BMX racing trophy, but his mother is even more proud of how he handles his asthma. Jo's older brother has it too, so it was not hard to pick up on the symptoms.

"We were kind of able to pinpoint that something wasn't quite right with him," Diane Dunn said.

Nearly 20,000 children in Wake County have asthma.

"The good thing is that most children who are treated properly can live and play like any other child. That's the thing we tend to stress," Dr. Anne Yeakey said.

The problem is many kids go undiagnosed and many more do not get proper treatment.

"Sometimes it's difficult to recognize symptoms of asthma, such as just having a cough that is chronic," Yeakey said.

Symptoms can include a persistent cough, chest tightness, wheezing, difficulty walking and talking -- even blue lips or fingers.

There are medications to manage the disease if they are used properly.

"If the child is still having symptoms, he's probably not on appropriate therapy," Yeakey said.

WakeMed's pediatric asthma program educates parents and children about the disease. Through the program, Dunn learned what triggers her son's attacks.

"The heat, the humidity, when the ozone's really bad -- those are the times that bother him a lot," Dunn said.

Jo has learned a lot, too -- including what to do if his asthma acts up at school. His asthma is under control he can focus on things he enjoys -- especially BMX racing.

Tuesday is

World Asthma Day

-- a day dedicated to raising awareness of the disease and educating people about treatments and prevention.

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