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Chest tightening, shallow breathing and a sense of fear washing over you, are just a few of the indicators of an asthma attack. For the third year in a row, Scenic Mountain Medical Center provided education on how to live with asthma, through the 2018 Asthma Camp.

“Asthma is something that can be controlled. It doesn’t have to be a hindrance,” Lisa Parks, Respiratory Therapy interim supervisor, said. “By being able to recognize personal triggers, understand control methods and overcome the fear of asthma, they can run and jump like all the other kids.”

While the camp took on a different look and was shorted to one afternoon, students were still able to learn a little bit about what asthma is, how to recognize the onset of an attack and gained tips on how to utilize that information should an attack occur.

“The main point we are trying to drive home is just because a child has asthma doesn’t mean they are giving up their childhood. It’s not a diagnosis that should stop them from playing sports; it’s not a broken bone that is going to keep them out of the game for six weeks. Instead it’s play a bit, rest and then get back in the game.”

During camp, students learned what their triggers were. While most can deal with weather changes, pets, dust and different fragrances in the air, an asthma child could be pushed into an asthma attack. Lessons also included the importance of talking about feelings and not holding them in, and included a short tour of the hospital.

“The structure of the camp allows for us to have fun, while teaching valuable tips and delivering information that could help them in the future. For example, we focused on belly breathing and while it may look silly, it could be something they remember later on that helps them calm down and prevent an asthma attack,” Parks said.

She continued, “We could sit them down for a four-hour class, but will they retain that information? Maybe, but if we show them through a fun activity then they are more likely to remember it because it will have made an impact on them. They will remember that slim they made when they feel the mucus building up in their chest and maybe that will trigger them to think, hey I need to stay hydrated and possibly prevent that mucus from buildup.”

Even though there is education that can be provided and a healthy understanding of asthma can be a big preventer when it is implemented, there are those instances where an asthma attack is going to occur. In addition of teaching the kids symptoms to look for, we also want to help ease their fears, in case they do end up visiting the hospital.

“Coming to the hospital can be scary for anyone, but it can be even worse for a child who is having trouble breathing. In order to help ease that fear, we walked the kids through the emergency room and discussed the process in case they ever end up in that situation,” Parks said. “ They were also able to
visit the radiology department and learned about the many uses of x-rays.”

Hand washing can be a good preventative measure for anyone, especially during peak flu season and as kids get back into a new school year. Those attending the asthma camp this year, had an opportunity to learn the proper hand washing technique.

“Most people think if you use soap, run a little bit of water over your hands to rinse it off then you are good to go and all the germs are gone, but that isn’t exactly correct. The recommendation is to wash your hands for at least 25 seconds, use warm water and soap and grab a paper towel before turning off the faucet,” Parks said.

One of the phlebotomists took a few moments to go over the proper technique, and demonstrated how many germs could be left behind when we don’t wash correctly. Through the use of a little bit of powder and a black light, students were able to see the lasting effects germs can have that we aren’t able to see.

“Even with the revamp of the camp this year, we had a good turnout and the kids walked away having had a little bit of fun and gained some knowledge that will hopefully help them in the school year ahead. We are looking forward to building the camp back up again next year and helping more students understand there is nothing wrong with getting out and playing.”

No child should miss out on an active childhood, even those with asthma. There are ways for all kids to be active and hopefully those who attended asthma camp will be able to put that information into play this coming school year and sports season.

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