Asthma is a chronic lung illness that constricts muscles and causes inflammation in the airways. It can induce coughing, tightening of the chest and wheezing.
In Texas alone, over 9% of children suffer from it. Dr Stephen Apaliski specializes in allergy and immunology pediatrics in Arlington. He says asthma can affect a child’s performance in school.
“Kids who have asthma are having interrupted sleep, so they’re not resting well. Not having the correct rest can certainly affect your performance in school. It can result in increased school absenteeism. So if a child’s not there, they’re not getting the information taught that they need to be taught.”
Asthma can be triggered by allergens in the environment, and Houston is home to many of those.
“Most common things are pollens, trees, grasses especially are a huge trigger. This time in the summer where there is a lot of heat and exhaust, and this results in the production of ozone, and ozone can be a major trigger for asthma.”
Apaliski says simple strategies can help in dealing with asthma. If an attack occurs, he suggests using rescue medication such as a nebulizer or a meter dose inhaler. They open up the airways by stimulating the smooth muscles in the walls. Apaliski has noticed that schools are becoming much more educated about asthma and competent nurses are able to help kids too. But parents can also play a role in that.
“Be prepared. Learn as much as you can about asthma. Communicating with the school, making sure that you don’t just depend upon the nurse, but touch base with them either on the phone or face-to-face to let them know what particular triggers affect you child. And then making sure they have all the forms that they need filled out. Doing that ahead of time makes things go a lot smoother.”
This piece was voiced by Edel Howlin and written by Nibin Thomas.