01 May 2012, under
Health; More Health articles...
5 Step Rule - Click to enlarge
Asthma is a condition that affects the airways – the small tubes that carry the air in and out of the lungs. Children with asthma have airways that are extra sensitive to substances (or triggers) which irritate them. Common triggers include cold and flu, cigarette smoke, exercise and allergic responses to pollen, furry or feathery animals or house-dust mites.
When the airways come into contact with an asthma trigger, the muscle around the walls of the airways tighten so that the airways become narrower. The lining of the airways swell and produce a sticky mucus. As the airways narrow, it becomes difficult for the air to move in and out. That is why a child will find breathing difficult and you may hear a wheezing noise.
Whilst there is no cure, asthma can be controlled by avoiding ‘triggers’ and by the use of ‘reliever’ and ‘preventer’ medication. Relievers are medicines that people with asthma take immediately when asthma appears. Preventers help calm down the airways and stop them from being so sensitive.
400 people attend the Emergency Department every week because of an asthma attack and tragically one person dies from asthma every week in Ireland.
Keith Rothwell lost his brother Michael to asthma just over 11 years ago when Michael was just about to turn 20. Keith and Michael both had asthma when they were growing up and Keith remembers that his own asthma was as severe as Michael’s. Michael was very conscious of taking his medication and managing his asthma, while Keith would be less conscientious and enjoyed sports like rock-climbing and running marathons as he got older.
On the day he died, Michael had just left a friend’s house when he began to feel unwell. When passing a neighbour’s house he asked them to call his home. Michael’s Dad arrived soon after and on route to the emergency department at Beaumont Hospital Michael Snr, who suffered from chest problems himself, gave Michael his nebulizer to use.
When Michael arrived at the hospital although he was said to be feeling better, sadly he had had a very bad asthma attack and passed away in the hospital. Over the last ten years Michael’s family and friends have arranged a number of fundraising events for asthma and last year Michael’s parents Nuala and Michael Snr. received the Volunteer of the Year Award from the Asthma Society of Ireland.
Keith says that he hopes telling Michael’s story will show that even a mild asthma attack can prove to be fatal and would encourage anyone living with asthma to make sure they have it under control.
Reducing the number of asthma deaths and improving asthma control is the driving force behind the work of the Asthma Society.
The Society wants to ensure that everyone in the country knows the 5 key steps outlined in the Asthma Attack Card to follow in case you, or someone you are with, experience an asthma attack. To ensure that this information is easily accessible to those who need it, an Asthma Attack Card can be accessed at www.asthmasociety.ie and downloaded directly to your smart phone.
The five step rule outlined in the Asthma Attack Card is as follows:
1. Take two puffs of reliever inhaler (usually blue) immediately
2. Sit upright and stay calm
3. Take slow steady breaths
4. If there is no improvement take one puff of reliever inhaler every minute (
You can take up to 10 puffs in ten minutes / Children under 6 years can take up to 6 puffs in ten minutes)
5. Call 999 or 112 if symptoms do not improve after following steps 1 – 4 or if you are are concerned
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