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"Care" For Asthma Sufferers

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Dr. Ernest Levister, Jr.
Dear Dr. Levister: My 5-year-old brother has bad asthma. Where can we go in San Bernardino to get help? F.W.

Dear F.W.: Contact the County Public Health Department and its free Coordinated Asthma Referral and Education, or CARE, program.  Call the CARE program at (800) 722-3777. The CARE program serves children only.

CARE gets financial help from the Air Quality Management District and the Children’s Fund.

Supported by the American Lung Association and Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, the program offers needy families medical assessments, clothing, bedding and other basic household items. CARE can help families identify and remove household and environmental triggers that can cause asthma. Financial help is available from the Children’s Fund which has funded air conditioners, new carpet and allergen-resistant covers for pillows and mattresses and other health aids.

Asthma is a growing concern in this country, particularly among inner-city African-American and Latino populations. Asthma is a chronic lung disease characterized by episodes of airflow obstruction.  Symptoms of an asthma attack include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.

Asthma occurs in people who are predisposed to develop asthma because of genetic susceptibility.  Asthma is usually triggered by environmental factors. A variety of “triggers” may initiate or worsen an asthma attack, including viral respiratory infections, exercise, and exposure to allergens or to airway irritants such as tobacco smoke, manufacturing, rail and, vehicle exhausts and other environmental pollutants that persist in many low income neighborhoods. With the coming flu season at hand asthma sufferers should get a flu shot.

Once asthma sufferers learn what conditions prompt their attacks, they can take steps to control their environment and avoid these triggers.

However, medical treatment with anti-inflammatory agents (especially inhaled steroids) and bronchodilators may be necessary to prevent and control attacks. With optimal management, control of asthma is attainable.

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