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Asthma 101: June 14, 2011

Among 9 year old Alexa Piazza’s growing list of life lessons is Asthma 101. She had her first attack last year.

 “It was really hard to breathe and I felt like something was choking me,” she says.

A rising number of young children are being diagnosed with asthma and now there’s a statewide effort to teach both children and adults how to manage their condition.

Alexa has learned to take responsibility for keeping her asthma under control, right down to getting rid of her stuffed animals.

“Because the more I put them near my face, it just makes my asthma worse,” Alexa says.  

The better people understand their asthma the more likely they are to control it. With one-on-one training they can pinpoint their triggers, find what medication works best for them and form an action plan.

Lee Memorial Health System offers an Asthma Management Program for anyone newly diagnosed.

“We start by explaining to them that asthma is a life long illness, it's not an illness that, many people think that you outgrow, you do not,” says Theresa Summe, program coordinator.

After six months of training, Alex handled her medications like a pro.

“You put it on your mouth and then squeeze it and then suck in the medicine, hold it for 10 seconds and then breathe in and out again,” Alexa demonstrates.

The Asthma management program is successful as well. 

“For our patients, we've had approximately a 92% decrease in hospital admissions, ER visits and about an 80% decrease in kids missing school,” Summe says.

It pays to do your homework and stay healthy.