Asthma Watch

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School Absences and Asthma Challenged

A new study reported in the February2009 issue of Chest suggested that kidswith asthma may not miss as muchschool as previously thought.

The study of 19 inner-city Dallas,Texas, schools found that fourth-, fifth-,and sixth-graders with the lung conditionhad no more absences, comparedwith their peers without asthma.

“This study shows that school-agedchildren with asthma may not sufferunduly from absences, if their asthmais well-controlled,” explained leadresearcher Mark W. Millard, MD.

He noted that the children in theDallas schools have benefited fromproactive actions to help control theproblem.

Almost all of the schools have afull-time registered nurse who developsan asthma management planfor each student with the condition.Nurses also complete continuing educationon proper asthma care andcan refer students who are not on theappropriate medication to clinics forfollow-up.

Housecleaning May Aggravate Asthma

Women with asthma may want to thinktwice about doing household chores. Anew study found that house cleaningmay trigger a spike in breathing problems,according to a study reported inthe Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology(January 2009).

The 12-week study compared thehealth effects of household cleaningamong 25 women with asthma and 19women without the breathing conditionwho reported that they are the primarycleaners in their homes. After cleaning,the researchers saw a statistically significantrise in the number of respiratorysymptoms in women with asthma, comparedwith the nonasthma group.

The researchers suggested that physicianscaution women about the potentialrespiratory health effects of cleaningchores and exposure to cleaning agents.

School Involvement Helps Asthma

School-based supervised asthma therapycan improve adherence with dailyasthma controller medications amongchildren with asthma. The study included290 children from 36 schools whowere randomized to receive school-based,supervised therapy or usualcare.

The researchers defined poor asthmacontrol as 1 of the following: (1)missed school due to asthma or respiratoryillness, (2) average use of rescueasthma medication >2 times per week,or (3) at least 1 red or yellow readingon a peak flow meter. The researchersobserved no change in asthma controlamong the usual care group during the15-month follow-up period.

The findings were positive amongthe supervised asthma therapy group,however. The likelihood of poor asthmacontrol was 57% higher prior to thestudy, compared with the follow-upperiod. The study was reported in theFebruary 2009 issue of Pediatrics.

St. Louis, MO, Tops Asthma Capitals

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation ofAmerica has released its annual AsthmaCapitals of the United States ranking ofthe 100 most challenging places to livewith asthma. This ranking was determinedbased on an analysis and scoringof 12 factors in 3 areas—prevalence, risk,and medical factors.

The top 10 Asthma Capitals are:

  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Birmingham, Alabama
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Knoxville, Tennessee
  • McAllen, Texas
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Little Rock, Arkansas

Ranked ninth in 2008, St. Louis movedinto the top position in part due to worsethan average scores in crude death ratedue to asthma, higher than average pollencounts over the previous year, andlack of 100% smoke-free laws.

Breathing Exercises Improve Quality of Life

Reporting in a recent issue of Thorax,Scottish researchers found that asthmabreathing exercises do not reduce theneed for inhalers, but they do improvequality of life. The study involved nearly200 adults being treated for mild-to-moderatesevere asthma.

For the study, 94 patients did 3 sessionsof breathing exercise training providedby a physiotherapist. The remainingpatients received information andadvice about their disease. The investigatorsfound that, after 1 month, bothgroups showed improvements in qualityof life. Six months later, the patients inthe breathing exercise group were considerablyless anxious and depressed,and tended to control their asthma better,compared with the control group.

F A S T F A C T: Every day in America 30,000 people have an asthma attack.

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