In elementary school I played on a traveling soccer team. Before every game we would pack our bags. We were careful not to forget our uniform, shin guards, socks, and cleats. However, there was another item that was crucial to some of the members of the team: their inhalers. My best friend played on the same team that I did and before we would leave for our games her parents would always remind her to grab her inhaler. I remember having to get her inhaler for her during some of her asthma attacks, and it wasn’t always on the soccer field. Sometimes it was at school or in our homes.
Asthma has proven to be one of the most common serious chronic diseases of childhood. Schools and homes can harbor triggers that can lead to trouble breathing and asthma attacks.
Exposures that can trigger asthma attacks include:
· Secondhand smoke
· Dust mites
· Pet dander
· Ozone and particle pollution
While most of these are exposures that you can look for indoors, there is also a way to become more aware of the quality of the outdoor air in your area. The Air Quality Index (AQI) , shown during your local weather report, can be a useful tool to provide information on the potential health risks of the air in your area.
Some children with asthma can have difficulty playing outside when there are high levels of pollutants in the air. Even small amounts of outdoor physical activity, such as walking, can trigger an asthma attack when the air quality is poor.
Some measures that can be made to help manage asthma include:
- Eliminate smoking around children or the areas in which they live, learn, and play.
- Use integrated pest management (IPM) to help prevent pest problems.
- Fix leaks and moisture problems indoors.
- Dust and vacuum regularly in areas that kids will be.
- Locate animals away from sensitive children and ventilation systems.
About the author: Nicole Reising is an intern at the Office of Children’s Health Protection. She is a sophomore studying non-profit management at Indiana University.