Beats Per Minute • Erie Family Health Center Blog • November 2014
In this issue: Managing Asthma • Exercising in Winter • Our Erie Patients
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Asthma is one of the most common lung conditions found in children, affecting the lives of 7.1 million children under 18 years of age. Asthma attacks are the number one reason why children miss school, and they are the most common cause of pediatric emergency room visits.
Asthma affects the lung’s airways, or bronchial tubes. In a person without asthma, air travels through the mouth or nose. The air then makes its way into the windpipe, the bronchial tubes, the lungs, and then out again. In a person with asthma, however, all of these airways are extremely sensitive to dust, smoke, pollen, or exercise. When dust particles or other allergens come into contact with these sensitive airways, the airways constrict and narrow, making it difficult for air to travel—and making it harder to breathe.
While some children show only mild symptoms of asthma, such as after exercising or during the pollen season in spring, others have more severe cases. If not treated properly, over time the asthma attacks that these children experience can even cause changes in the lung’s ability to function properly. Indeed, this illness can be
Asthma symptoms vary from child to child, but there are common warning signs to look out for. If your child has difficulty breathing, complains of a tight feeling in their chest, or experiences attacks of coughing and wheezing, you should make an appointment with your pediatrician to rule out asthma.
Children who have exercised-induced asthma (EIA) will exhibit symptoms after activities like swimming, running, or during gym at school. Feeling tired or a little out of breath is perfectly normal when exercising, especially if your child doesn’t exercise often. Children with exercise-induced asthma, however, have continued shortness of breath and wheezing even after they’ve recovered from exercise. The right medicine, however, can help many kids with asthma can participate in sports and gym class. If your child does have exercise-induced asthma, a pediatrician may prescribe a medicine for your child to take before exercising.
Allergy-induced asthma is different from EIA in that your child’s body is producing an allergic response to substances like pollen or dust. The body identifies the substance as an invader, and to protect itself the immune system releases chemicals that cause common allergy symptoms, like a runny nose or watery eyes. For some people, though, this reaction has an effect on the lungs and leads to an asthma attack. Medicine prescribed for those with allergy-induced asthma will often treat both allergies and asthma. There are also over-the-counter medications for children of a certain age that can help with some of the symptoms.
Whatever type of asthma your child has, it’s always best to be prepared. Make sure that every one of your child’s caregivers, including sports coaches, club leaders, teachers, babysitters, and school nurses know about your child’s asthma. Provide them with a list of your child’s triggers (for example, intense aerobic exercise, smoke, or tree pollen) as well as extra medicine or an inhaler for them to have on hand in case your child has an asthma attack under their supervision.
With the right asthma treatment and management plan, as well as regular visits to your family doctor or pediatrician, both you and your child can learn how to manage symptoms and control asthma attacks. Schedule an appointment with your family doctor or your child’s pediatrician to learn more about asthma, and what you can do to keep your child symptom-free.
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As the temperatures drop and the wind picks up, the last thing anyone wants to think about is outdoor physical activity and exercise. It’s much more fun to engage in physical activity during the summer months, when the sun shines bright and it’s easy to step outside and go for a jog or a swim. But getting your heart rate up and your blood pumping isn’t just important for those three to four months out of the year—it’s necessary for a healthy, energized body year-round.
Engaging in moderate-to-intense physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day has wonderful benefits for your health. Exercising can significantly reduce your risk of a heart attack, aid with other cardiovascular issues, and even help prevent type 2 diabetes. Being physically active also gives you stronger muscles and bones, and may ultimately lower your risk of developing osteoporosis.
The benefits of exercise aren’t just limited to your physical health. Numerous studies have found that exercise helps those with depression by changing the levels of chemicals in the brain. Those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)—a specific type of depression related to the change in seasons—may especially benefit from consistent, year-round exercise. With regular activity, you may sleep better, perform better at work and school, and overall be more relaxed on a daily basis.
Still, it may be difficult to immediately appreciate the benefits of exercise with the impending gloom of a Midwest winter. The temptation to sit on the couch and watch TV instead of getting bundled up to work out in the cold is especially strong. Fortunately, there are many different ways to get in cardiovascular exercise during the winter months—even if you hate being in the cold.
Stairs are great tools to get in activity during the work or school day. If the building you’re in has stairs, you can set aside ten minutes twice a day (during your lunch break, or before or after work, for example) for walking up and down the stairs. You can also do this in your own home or apartment building. Simply strap on your tennis shoes and start stepping—no outer gear required.
You may also want to take a trip to visit your local library to borrow fitness DVD’s. Many of the activities on the DVD’s require little to no exercise equipment, and you have the flexibility to work out whenever you want in the warm comfort of your own home.
Another great way to get in exercise is to walk more. For example, if you’re at the mall, walk several laps around the stores before doing your shopping. If you’re at the grocery store, circle around the aisles, then start choosing your food for the week. Remember, every little bit of physical activity counts.
It’s important to have a friend or family member who supports your exercise goals and it’s even better to have someone who wants to work out with you. Having an exercise buddy will increase your motivation to work out when you’re feeling especially slow and sluggish.
Remember to check with your doctor before starting an exercise regimen, especially if you’re over 45 years old, pregnant, or if physical activity makes you feel faint or causes chest pain.
Our Erie Patients
Providing our patients with quality, compassionate care is our top priority. Everyone at Erie, from our doctors and nurses to our billing and administrative staff, work at Erie with the hope that what they do on a daily basis betters the health and well-being of the entire community. These stories provide just a glimpse into the lives of some of our patients—and how their health, and their family’s health, has improved under the care of Erie’s attentive staff.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Hispanic and Latina women, and it remains the leading cause of cancer death. A diagnosis of breast cancer is frightening—besides having to worry about their health, many women wonder how they will be able to pay for cancer treatment.
Without health insurance, Silvia Mauricio couldn’t imagine how she would afford breast cancer treatment. She feared for her life. Tears came to her eyes when she thought about her husband and her thirteen-year-old son. “The small things seemed big, and the big things seemed bigger,” she said.
Support came from Erie’s medical provider, Dr. Katherine Sisco, women’s cancer care coordinator Monica Ortiz and breast health navigator, Yesenia Gutierrez. “They told me not to worry,” recalled Mauricio. “They assured me they would make referrals, financial arrangements, and schedule my appointments so I could focus on my health, my treatment, and my family. They were my angels.”
Besides providing clinical breast exams and breast cancer support groups, Erie partners with the Latina Association for Breast Cancer so that patients like Mauricio can maintain their health and quality of life throughout treatment, recovery, and beyond.
“I’m so thankful for Erie,” Mauricio said. “And my son is a wonder! He told me I was strong and said I looked good even when I lost my hair. My husband hugged me, told me he loved me, and promised we’d get through this. We did!”
Are you interested in sharing your personal story of how the people at Erie have positively affected your health? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org and your story could be featured on the Erie blog, website, as well as or other social media channels.