Asthma or reactive airway disease is a chronic disorder that results in restricted breathing due to inflammation of the bronchial tubes, the main air passages in the lungs. Asthma affects 3 to 5 percent of adults and 7 to 10 percent of children in the United States. Severe asthma attacks cause approximately 11 deaths a day.
Three changes occur inside the airways of the lungs in people with asthma: the first change is inflammation, or swelling, whereby the airway becomes inflamed and produces thick mucus. Inflammation then leads to constriction of the muscles around the airways, causing the airways to narrow. This narrowing is also referred to as bronchospasm. The third change is increased sensitivity of the airways, causing the asthma patient to become overly sensitive to animal dander, pollen, cold air and tobacco smoke, just to name a few.
The primary symptoms of asthma are coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breathe. A child who has frequent coughing or respiratory infections should be checked for asthma.
UHS is the lead agency in providing pediatric asthma education services to local children since 1997.
Asthma Coalition of the Southern Tier
UHS works in conjunction with ACOST (Asthma Coalition of the Southern Tier). ACOST is a coalition partially funded by the American Lung Association and the NYS Health Department. The primary aims of the program are to:
1: Reduce hospital admissions, emergency room visits, and missed school days
2: Enhance the quality of life of children with asthma
3: Develop a sustainable strategy for asthma management in the community
*People who have asthma experience well over 100 million days of restricted activity each year, and asthma is believed it is to be the most common reason that students miss school.
*Asthma is the leading cause of hospitalizations in children under 15.
* Visits to the emergency rooms due to asthma are increasing. It is estimated that costs will exceed 14.5 billion.
The high prevalence of childhood asthma puts a huge burden on healthcare utilization and health care costs. To ensure appropriate management for all children with asthma remains available, existing healthcare resources are made available by ACOST coalition and UHS.
Coalition efforts include improving access to quality medical services, education, family community support, and support to schools introducing the Open Airway Program (OAS). OAS is designed to help previously diagnosed children to understand the warning signs, triggers, and use of asthma medications. OAS is a free asthma education program for ages 8-12 years of age. OAS is taught in 6 weekly sessions of 45 minutes each by specially trained nurses from Decker School of Nursing at Binghamton University.
Currently 130 children from 35 area schools are involved in OAS. Over 600 children diagnosed with asthma have been educated in one of the many programs offered by the coalition. Parents or guardians of OAS and are contacted by telephone for 1 year from start of program by an asthma nurse. Free packets of asthma education materials are sent to the home of children in the OAS program. These free packets help to assist parents and children how to “ control their asthma”. A free appointment may be scheduled with a certified asthma educator to provide one on one education.
In addition a case management program by physician referral provides a free home visit by a respiratory therapist medical personnel from UHS Home Care PHC. The purpose of this visit is to assess the environment of the home, provide education, and provide hypoallergenic mattress and pillow case covers. Professional education is also provided to school nurses, school transportation personnel, teachers, physical education instructors, coaches, head start programs, daycare centers, primary care providers, emergency departments and walk-in clinics in the five counties.
For more information call:
Jenny English RN, Certified Asthma Educator
Acost supports asthma programs in Broome, Chenango, Tioga, Delaware, and Otsego counties.
Click Here for an Asthma Action plan that you can share with your doctor.