How Asthma is Changing Lives

Teresa Madaleno

How Asthma is changing lives

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 24-million Americans suffer from Asthma. Worldwide the number is about 3-hundred million and growing.

Asthma can hit at any age but people get the disease for different reasons. Triggers can include cold air, strenuous exercise and even stress. Many experts believe one of the biggest culprits is environmental pollution. It can cause the lining of the airways to become swollen and inflamed. There is less room for air to pass in and out of the lungs -not a nice feeling.

I recently met a woman from the Midwest who calls herself “Asthma mom”. She developed the disease as a child. She then married a man who also suffered from asthma. Together they have three beautiful children. Sadly, they all have asthma. Constant doctor’s appointments, races to the hospital and pinpointing triggers started to consume their lives. They tried avoiding populated areas such as large cities. As well, they avoid using tools and equipment that expel fumes of any kind. They thought perhaps living in the country would lower the frequency of the aggravating and sometimes life-threatening symptoms. It didn’t work out. They didn’t account for the exposure to farm tractors and diesel trucks hauling produce and cattle along the country roads.

We hear the word Asthma so often now that a lot of us who don’t suffer from it don’t give it much thought. It would be like giving a great deal of sympathy to someone who has a head cold right? Well, actually it’s a lot different. It is one of the most prevalent conditions affecting North Americans; however, if you had asthma you wouldn’t feel ordinary at all. People with asthma overreact to certain stimuli and at times their airways or bronchial tubes become so inflamed and sensitive attack occurs. Imagine the muscles around your bronchial tubes tightening, causing the airways to narrow then mucus forming within the tubes restricting air flow even more.

Asthma can be mild, moderate or severe; it varies from person to person and it can flare up at any time. Since asthma is a chronic condition, it often requires constant medical care. People who have moderate to severe asthma have to take long-term medications on a daily basis to prevent symptoms and attacks.

A few years ago “Asthma mom” decided to go back to school. She became a nurse and then a public health educator. She wants to help other families learn how to cope with asthma. She wants to convince industry to develop ways to reduce environmental pollution. She isn’t giving up, her family depends on it.

Climate Wars (Episode 2)

by BBC:

In the early 90′s environmentalists were predicting doom and gloom unless we quickly cleaned up the planet. Skeptics were quick to respond by calling global warming a natural occurrence, as opposed to a modern, man-made phenomenon. As you will discover by selecting the link below, scientists were able to show those skeptics some compelling evidence suggesting that the warming of our earth has little to do with the word “natural”.

Inside Nation

Teresa Madaleno

Inside Nation

Research by Planet Ark shows that Australia’s outdoor life is fading fast. Kids in Australia are spending less time in the backyard as adults spend more hours at the office. So why does it matter? Australia is renowned for its outdoor way of life but even more important, fresh air is good for you.

The startling research indicates that the laid-back outdoor culture Aussies always pride themselves on is being eroded by kids who are playing on screen rather than outside, as well as by parents who spend more time at work than at home. For every hour kids spend outside, they spend over seven hours in front of screens watching television or playing on the internet. An estimated one in three people spend less than eighteen minutes per day doing outdoor recreational activities. Backyard pastimes like playing cricket and having barbecues are fading away due to changing lifestyles.

Previous research by Planet Ark, a well known organization that supports individuals and businesses that want to reduce their day-to-day environmental impact showed that there was a benefit to childhood contact with nature. Years ago studies around the globe, including those conducted at Harvard Medical School suggested that spending time outdoors had great health benefits. Research revealed that fresh air does the following:

  • Aids in digestion
  • Strengthens our immune system
  • Cleans our lungs
  • Improves our blood pressure
  • Sharpens our mind

This trend of sitting around indoors is not confined to Australia. Researchers affiliated with the World Health Organization have reported that the total combined weight of human beings on earth is now well over 287 million tons, partly due to lack of activity; sitting around the house. However, while the focus should be on health educators encouraging people to get outside, breathe in fresh air, and get active, they admit the problem is that fresh air in many cities is hard to come by. Physicians contend, if you have a problem with blood pressure, asthma or other underlying health issues, you should avoid any outdoor pollution and stay inside where there is a decent supply of air. Dirty environments force the body to work harder to get the amount of oxygen it needs.

In the case of inhaling fresh air, it helps our lungs to dilate more and improves the cleansing action of our lungs. This means when we exhale and breathe out through our lungs, we release airborne toxins from our body. This sounds great, but many cities and towns can’t seem to escape smog days so the opposite actually occurs – our lungs are filled with toxins as we step outside and breathe in the not-so-fresh air. In 2010 for example, the California community of Riverside had no fewer than one-hundred and ten smog days.

Avoiding the outdoors can’t go on forever. You have likely heard about the rise in vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D occurs naturally in a few foods such as fish, eggs and fortified milk but our best source of vitamin D comes from sunshine. Today doctors are saying kids are also growing up with a lack of “vitamin G”… in other words, healthy green-space. There are many reasons we need to encourage our kids to get up and get outside but until the outside is truly green, health officials say they will find it hard to plead their case to those on the inside.

I am the Earth

Glyn Lehmann

A few years ago school-aged children in Europe expressed their feelings about our planet in a song called “I am the Earth”. In one poignant line they sang out “we are the future rising”. Since recording the song and releasing an animated video along with it, thousands of people have copied the song, sending out a clear message that our future needs to be protected.