Friday, March 13

Facts on Asthma

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by inflamed, swollen and narrowed airways, making breathing difficult. Although no cure has been found for asthma, it can be controlled.

If you are asthmatic, you have sensitive airways that react to certain factors such as stress, infection (flu, common colds), dust, mites, feathers, cigarette smoke, and changes in the weather. These can trigger the swelling and the narrowing of your airways.

What causes Asthma?

No one really knows exactly what causes asthma. In asthma, the irritation of your ultra sensitive airways results to the three changes:

  • cells in your air passages produce excessively thick and sticky mucus that tends to clog your airways
  • your air passages swell or become inflamed
  • the muscles in your airways constrict and tighten

These changes cause your air passages to narrow or constrict, causing difficulty in breathing, wheezing, and tightness in the chest.

What do you do in case of asthma attack?

  • take only asthma medications prescribed by your doctor
  • do not take cough medicines
  • if your attack is caused by a bacterial infection, take the appropriate antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
  • if your symptoms persist, or you are experiencing a moderate attack or a severe one, get emergency help right away.

What to do to minimize or prevent an asthma attack?

  • take controllers (as prescribed by physician)
  • know the signs and symptoms of an incoming acute asthma attack
  • know what trigger your asthma attack
  • avoid triggers

What are the sign and symptoms of an incoming acute asthma attack?

  • coughing a lot during exercise or even during rest after exercising
  • shortness of breath
  • wheezing when breathing
  • tightening of the chest

What triggers an asthmatic attack?

There are numerous causes that "trigger" your asthma attack. However, these can be divided into three major groups:

Allergens - the largest group includes common "triggers" like pollen, molds, mildew, cockroaches, feathers, and dust mites.

Irritants - this group are found in common household items such as acrosol sprays, cleaning products, and perfumes. Tobacco smoke, air pollution and industrial chemicals also belong to this group.

Physical Conditions - this group includes exercise, weather changes and emotional stress. It also includes viral infections like common cold and flu.

How do you know you are having an asthma attack?

Asthma attacks may start suddenly, or may take days to develop. Attacks range from mild, moderate to severe.

Mild-to-moderate attacks - are more common. There is a feeling of tightness in your chest and you may start coughing and spitting out mucus or phlegm. You may also feel restless or irritable and have difficulty sleeping. You oftentimes make a whistling or wheezing sound when you are breathing air in and out, which may be due to narrowed air tubes.

Several Attacks - during severe attacks you may become breathless and may have difficulty talking. Your neck muscles become tight as you breathe. Your lips and fingernails may have a grayish and bluish color. Your breathing becomes more forceful, usually accompanied by the upward movements of your chest.

Source: Department of Health

Dealing with Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a general term that refers to an infection of the lungs, which can be caused by a variety of microorganisms, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites.

Often pneumonia begins after an upper respiratory tract infection (an infection of the nose and throat). When this happens, symptoms of pneumonia begin after 2 or 3 days of a cold or sore throat.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of pneumonia vary, depending on the age of the child and the cause of the pneumonia. Common symptoms include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • cough
  • unusually rapid breathing
  • breathing with grunting or wheezing sounds
  • labored breathing that makes a child's rib muscles retract (when muscles under the rib cage or between ribs draw inward with each breath)
  • vomiting
  • chest pain
  • abdominal pain
  • decreased activity
  • loss of appetite (in older kids) or poor feeding (in infants)
  • in extreme cases, bluish or gray color of the lips and fingernails

Sometimes a child's only symptom is rapid breathing. Sometimes when the pneumonia is in the lower part of the lungs near the abdomen, there may be no breathing problems, but there may be fever and abdominal pain or vomiting.

When pneumonia is caused by bacteria, an infected child usually becomes sick relatively quickly and experiences the sudden onset of high fever and unusually rapid breathing. When pneumonia is caused by viruses, symptoms tend to appear more gradually and are often less severe than in bacterial pneumonia. Wheezing may be more common in viral pneumonia.

Some types of pneumonia cause symptoms that give important clues about which germ is causing the illness. For example, in older kids and adolescents, pneumonia due to Mycoplasma (also called walking pneumonia) is notorious for causing a sore throat and headache in addition to the usual symptoms of pneumonia.

In infants, pneumonia due to chlamydia may cause conjunctivitis (pinkeye) with only mild illness and no fever. When pneumonia is due to whooping cough (pertussis), the child may have long coughing spells, turn blue from lack of air, or make a classic "whoop" sound when trying to take a breath.


Pneumonia is a lung infection that can be caused by different types of germs, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Although different types of pneumonia tend to affect children in different age groups, pneumonia is most commonly caused by viruses. Viruses that cause pneumonia include adenoviruses, rhinovirus, influenza virus (flu), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and parainfluenza virus (which causes croup).


The incubation period for pneumonia varies, depending on the type of virus or bacteria causing the infection (for instance, respiratory syncytial virus, 4 to 6 days; influenza, 18 to 72 hours).


With treatment, most types of bacterial pneumonia can be cured within 1 to 2 weeks. Viral pneumonia may last longer. Mycoplasmal pneumonia may take 4 to 6 weeks to resolve completely.


The viruses and bacteria that cause pneumonia are contagious and are usually found in fluid from the mouth or nose of an infected person. Illness can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes on a person, by sharing drinking glasses and eating utensils, and when a person touches the used tissues or handkerchiefs of an infected person.


Vaccines can prevent infections by viruses or bacteria that cause some types of pneumonia. Kids usually receive routine immunizations against Haemophilus influenzae and pertussis (whooping cough) beginning at 2 months of age. (The pertussis immunization is the "P" part of the routine DTaP injection.) Vaccines are now also given against the pneumococcus organism (PCV), a common cause of bacterial pneumonia.

Children with chronic illnesses, who are at special risk for other types of pneumonia, may receive additional vaccines or protective immune medication. The flu vaccine is strongly recommended for kids with chronic illnesses such as chronic heart or lung disorders or asthma, as well as otherwise healthy children ages 6 months through 19 years.

Because they're at higher risk for serious complications, infants who were born prematurely may be given treatments that temporarily protect against RSV, which can lead to pneumonia in younger children.

Doctors may give prophylactic (disease-preventing) antibiotics to prevent pneumonia in kids who have been exposed to someone with certain types of pneumonia, such as pertussis.

Antiviral medication is now available, too, and can be used to prevent some types of viral pneumonia or to make symptoms less severe.

In addition, regular tuberculosis screening is performed yearly in some high-risk areas because early detection will prevent active tuberculosis infection including pneumonia.

In general, pneumonia is not contagious, but the upper respiratory viruses that lead to it are, so it is best to keep your child away from anyone who has an upper respiratory tract infection. If someone in your home has a respiratory infection or throat infection, keep his or her drinking glass and eating utensils separate from those of other family members, and wash your hands frequently, especially if you are handling used tissues or dirty handkerchiefs.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor immediately if your child has any of the signs and symptoms of pneumonia, but especially if your child:

  • is having trouble breathing or is breathing abnormally fast
  • has a bluish or gray color to the fingernails or lips
  • has a fever of 102° Fahrenheit (38.9° Celsius), or above 100.4° Fahrenheit (38° Celsius) in infants under 6 months of age

Professional Treatment

Doctors usually make the diagnosis of pneumonia after a physical examination. The doctor may possibly use a chest X-ray, blood tests, and (sometimes) bacterial cultures of mucus produced by coughing when making a diagnosis.

In most cases, pneumonia can be treated with oral antibiotics given to your child at home. The type of antibiotic used depends on the type of pneumonia.

Children may be hospitalized for treatment if they have pneumonia caused by pertussis or other bacterial pneumonia that causes high fevers and respiratory distress. They may also be hospitalized if:

  • supplemental oxygen is needed
  • they have lung infections that may have spread into the bloodstream
  • they have chronic illnesses that affect the immune system
  • they are vomiting so much that they cannot take medicine by mouth
  • if they have recurrent episodes of pneumonia

Home Treatment

If your doctor has prescribed antibiotics for bacterial pneumonia, give the medicine on schedule for as long as directed. This will help your child recover faster and will decrease the chance that infection will spread to other household members.

Don't force a child who's not feeling well to eat, but encourage drinking of fluids, especially if fever is present. Ask the doctor before you use a medicine to treat your child's cough because cough suppressants stop the lungs from clearing mucus, which may not be helpful in some types of pneumonia.

If your child has chest pain, try a heating pad or warm compress on the chest area. Take your child's temperature at least once each morning and each evening, and call the doctor if it goes above 102° Fahrenheit (38.9° Celsius) in an older infant or child, or above 100.4° Fahrenheit (38° Celsius) in an infant under 6 months of age.

Check your child's lips and fingernails to make sure that they are rosy and pink, not bluish or gray, which is a sign that the lungs are not getting enough oxygen.


Time to Organize

Organizing Paper Clutter

Do you have heaps of financial papers in your house? Bills, receipts, credit card statements, tax records and investment files may have piled-up last year. Now is the best time to start arranging your records with these easy and useful organizing tips.

Throw away the unnecessary. Before doing anything else, you must know how to segregate your papers. Commonly, you can divide them into three. One is for records you need for less than one year, another for papers up to 5 years and then last is for documents you will need to hold on to indefinitely. For example, do you really need to keep your ATM withdrawal slips or your credit card receipts? It would be good practice to keep a record of these things and when it is validated by your monthly statement, you can already shred and throw them away. After a year or so, you can already toss out your credit card statements and utility bills (unless needed for business).

Keep what you need. There are however some papers that you need to keep for more than one year but less than 5 years such as tax records. You should also keep canceled checks and payment records for mortgage, insurance and other loans.

Set a place for your papers. More often than not, the reason why people get overwhelmed by papers is because they don’t have a place to put them in. You should have a designated area where you immediately put the paper after you have received it. It can be a folder, drawer or a cabinet. Preferably, the area where you intend to keep your papers is located near a table or desk so that you have a place to maintain your records and consolidate your statements. Also, keep your birth and marriage certificates, insurance policies, property deeds, and other important records in a secure but accessible place so you and your family will always be able to get to them easily if the need arises.

Have a system. When organizing a file system, you want to keep it as simple as possible. You can divide your papers into categories. For example, you can segregate the papers as either tax-related or non-tax related, or by account type (credit-card statements, mortgage statements, bills, etc.) or by expense (deductible business expenses, contributions to charity, and so on) or by financial goal (housing, retirement, college fund, etc.) or even by the facets of your life. This may require more time at first, but in due course, it will save you time.

Deal with the backlog. Once you have a system figured out, you can now tackle the piles that you have accrued. You shouldn’t take on this job all at once. Instead, do small amounts at a time. You can set aside 30 minutes a day sorting old papers while watching television or listening to the radio.
A little organization goes a long way. It will not just save you time and money but it will also give you peace of mind.

Source: Nestle Club website