Saturday, October 27, 2012

Healthy Options for Halloween

healthytreatsThe Two Tricks to Enjoying Treats
Cinderella, Buzz Lightyear, ghosts, and witches… Who will come knocking on your door this Halloween? Make sure you're prepared with a treat fit for a superhero or princess.
It's easier than ever to find Halloween treats to make kids happy while providing a health benefit. Grocery store shelves are stocked with kid-friendly favorites containing whole grains, extra vitamin C, 100-percent fruit juice and added fiber.
This year, consider mixing up the candy bowl with some of these items that kids might enjoy, even though they may be good for them. All of these items are available in easy to distribute snack-size packages, too.
  • Whole-grain cheddar flavored crackers
  • Fruit snacks made with 100 percent fruit with added vitamin C
  • Fruit leathers made with 100 percent fruit
  • Sugar-free gum
  • Animal-shaped graham crackers made without trans fat
  • Mini rice cereal treat bars
  • Cereal bars made with real fruit
  • Individual fruit cups
  • Mini 100-percent fruit juice boxes
  • Low-fat pudding cups
  • Baked, unsalted bags of pretzels
Remember to read the labels when buying these treats to be sure they are the healthiest choices. For example, check to see that fruit snacks, fruit leathers, cereal bars and juice boxes are made with 100-percent real fruit; animal crackers are made without trans fats; and that cheddar crackers are made with whole grain.
Another option for your trick-or-treaters is non-food treats such as Halloween pencils, pens, stickers, tattoos and spider rings. If you just can’t resist handing out candy, give bite-size candy bars.
Parents and kids should agree ahead of time on how much and when candy can be consumed each day. When they get home from trick-or-treating, have your children sort their candy into piles of "favorites" and "not so favorites" and let your children choose a few favorites to enjoy. As with any treat, candy can be a part of children's healthful eating plans — in moderation.
And don't forget what a workout trick or treating can be. Your kids can burn quite a few calories walking (sometimes in heavy costumes) and climbing up and down stairs!

Reprinted with permission from the American Dietetic Association

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cleaning Products: Safe for Your Family & the Environment

Joanna Michaels

Meet Method: American people against dirty!

Have you thought about making your house chemical and fumes free? You can start by using cleaning products that are natural, thus safe for your family and our environment, but they are also made in the U.S.A.!

Method, a company based in California, has figured it out how to eliminate burning lungs, stinging eyes, and headaches that often accompany house cleaning. With the whole line of cleaning products developed by Method, you can clean your house without a worry that your child’s asthma will flare-up from the fumes, or your pet will get sick from coming in contact with the powerful (read: poisonous) cleaning agent.

Cleaning products by Method are powerful, yet made with plant-derived surfactants that absorb dirt instead of degrading it. They are made out of natural biodegradable ingredients, such as soy, coconut oil, and palm oils, and are never tested on animals. Also, all packaging of Method products is recyclable. 

My recently discovered favorite Method product is tub ’n tile bathroom cleaner. The days of me nearly suffocating while scrubbing my shower are over! I was amazed at the effective yet fume-free cleaning power of this product. An added benefit: the whole bathroom was infused with an invigorating eucalyptus mint aroma.

So check out Method's products here:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Feeding Your Toddler

Kyla Boyse, R.N

feedingtoddlerWhat do I need to know about feeding my 1-2 year old?At a year old, formula-fed babies can switch to whole cow's milk. It is important to use "whole" milk, because children under two years old need fat for brain development. One-year-old breastfed babies will benefit from continuing to nurse, for as long as both mother and baby are happy with the arrangement. Your baby should be joining you at the table for meals, and be learning about mealtime as family time.
Starting off right with family meals: What if it’s hard to find time for family meals?Hard to find time for home-cooked meals for those family meals? Believe it or not, fast food may not actually save you time or money. Try batch-cooking—also called cooking once a month—and freezing.
How do I know if my child is getting enough to eat and growing properly?Is your child following their growth curve? The percentile your child falls into is not so important. Instead, look for steady growth that follows the curve. If you have questions or concerns about your
How much milk or juice should my little one drink?If your child doesn't seem to want to eat food, but drinks lots of milk and juice, they may be filling up on calories (energy) from these liquids.
Preschoolers should not drink more than a maximum of 16-24 ounces (2-3 cups) of milk each day. After age two, give your child reduced fat milk (skim or 1% milk fat). Even kids' arteries can clog up if they eat too much saturated fat.
Juice is not as nutritious as fresh whole fruit. If your child drinks juice, read the label carefully, and make sure it is 100% fruit juice. A yummy alternative to juice is a fruit smoothie made with whole fruit and yogurt in the blender.
Here are the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidelines on giving juice to kids:
  • Parents need to know the difference between 100% fruit juice and juice drinks, beverages or cocktails, which may contain very little or no real fruit juice. These drinks can look like fruit juice, but contain no more nutrition than soda pop.
  • Fruit juice should not be given to infants before 6 months of age.
  • Children should not drink juice from bottles or cups that allow them to consume juice easily throughout the day because having juice in their mouths all the time can cause tooth decay.
  • Babies and toddlers should not drink fruit juice at bedtime.
  • For children ages 1 to 6, intake of fruit juice should be limited to 4 to 6 ounces per day (about a half to three-quarters of a cup).
  • Drinking too much juice can lead to poor nutrition, diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, bloating, and tooth decay.
  • All children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits.
To reduce the amount of milk or juice your child takes in, try diluting it with water, and each day gradually add more water until your child is drinking plain water to quench their thirst. This will help them make the change little by little.
Remember to model good nutrition habits. If your family likes these drinks, save them for an occasional, special treat. Start healthy habits early, and don't introduce your toddler to soda pop until they are older. Water should be your main thirst-quencher. Keep filtered water, 100% fruit juice, and skim milk or calcium-fortified soy milk in your refrigerator instead of soda pop.
What about picky eaters?A picky eater can drive you nuts. How do you know if you need to worry? Again, as long as your child has energy and is healthy and growing, they are probably getting enough food. If you are concerned, check with their doctor.
Is snacking okay?Snacks are great if your little one eats healthy snack foods.  Now is the time to start healthy snacking habits with your little eater.  Think of snacks as mini-meals, and use them to get more grains, fruits, and vegetables into your child's diet. Keep healthy snacks ready and available to your kids. Bring healthy snacks with you on outings, instead of relying on fast food. Here are some ideas for healthy, no-cook, kid-friendly snacks:
  • Cut soft raw vegetables or fruit (like cucumber or banana) into chunks. Skewer them onto thin pretzel sticks. To prevent discoloration, dip fruits in orange juice after they're cut. Have your little one help!
  • Although it can be challenging getting some children to eat them, vegetables are a child's best friends. Especially when eaten raw, the nutritional value in vegetables can't be beat. Try broccoli or cauliflower flowerets (trees!—but be sure to shake out the squirrels and birds before you bite!), thin carrot sticks, green pepper slices, cherry tomatoes or tomato wedges, zucchini sticks, and more. Cut them into sticks or coins. Then dip them into salsa, hummus, or yogurt dip. These are great alternatives to high-fat dips made with mayonnaise or sour cream. For younger babies, steam the vegetables to soften them.
  • Put 1/2 cup plain yogurt and 1/2 cup cold 100% fruit juice in a non-breakable, covered container. Make sure the lid is tight. Then shake it up, and pour into a cup. Kids also go for blender smoothies, made with plain yogurt and whole fruit. In the summer you can freeze these into "popsicles."
  • Using cookie cutters with fun shapes, like dinosaurs, stars, and hearts, cut slices of cheese, low-fat lunchmeat, and whole-grain bread (make sure the first ingredient is “whole wheat” or another whole grain). Then put them together to make fun sandwiches. Eat the edges, too.
  • Favorite fruits are often grapes (be sure to cut them in half for kids under age four), thin-sliced apple wedges, and banana slices. When choosing fruit, it's important to remember the many, many options available, including lots of kinds of berries, pears, grapefruit and orange slices, cantaloupe chunks and pineapple. And don't forget about more exotic fruits, like kiwi fruit, papaya and mango, and the fun star fruit (carambola).
What book should I read to help my child develop healthy eating habits?How to Get Your Kid to Eat…But Not Too Much, by Ellyn Satter. 
This book is helpful for all parents to read, whether or not their children have eating problems. It applies to kids from birth through the teen years. The advice in this book can start your child off with a healthy relationship with food that will last a lifetime.
Content provided by the University of Michigan Health System Article excerpted from:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bullying and Beyond: How to Stop Violent Behavior

Lisa Firestone, PhD
Every day, an average of 160,000 children in the United States stay home from school for fear of being bullied. Last year, bullying made national headlines when physical and emotional violence towards LGBT teenagers led to a series of painful suicides. The immediate response to this was impressive. Dan Savage created the “It Gets Better Project” and inspired thousands of people, from Adam Lambert to President Obama, to send in videos about their own experiences with teenage bullying, violence and prejudice. The issue of bullying even made primetime television on popular shows, like “Glee.” The public outcry against bullying was a positive movement, but in its wake we must continue seeking ways to stop violence.
Violence is a behavior we can all help prevent. While there is no single easy solution to ending violence, raising our awareness and learning how to deal with violent behavior can help prevent and reduce violent acts.
The first step in preventing violence is to learn the warning signs that indicate whether someone is likely to become violent. These warning signs often include a history of early aggressive behavior, such as enjoying hurting animals, expressions of violence in drawings and writings, as well as physical fighting with siblings and peers. Other warning signs have to do with feeling constantly disrespected and thinking that a person has to be tough to get respect. These patterns of belief, along with the notion that violence is an acceptable solution, often mean the difference between someone having occasional violent thoughts and someone who does not hesitate to act on aggressive impulses. Similarly, individuals with antisocial beliefs and attitudes, who have a hard time acknowledging and relating to other people’s feelings, tend to be much more inclined to commit violence.
People who lose their temper consistently and have a hard time controlling their behavior are more likely to act destructively. Other serious warning signs include making plans or announcing desires to hurt others, carrying a weapon and knowing peers affiliated with gangs. Often an increase in emotional distress and agitation can be the tipping point in someone acting out violently. Similarly, an increase in drugs or alcohol can often trigger violent behavior.
If you know someone who is exhibiting these characteristics, it is important to understand how to deal with the warning signs. First and foremost, you must be safe and protect yourself by not spending time alone with that person. Tell someone you respect and trust about your concerns and ask for their help. Whether you choose to confide in a family member, a counselor, a member of the law enforcement or a friend, it is also a good idea to seek help from an experienced professional.
If you are worried someone is going to become violent, it is important to ask direct questions about the individual's history of violent behavior, as well as their current thinking and feelings. Have they ever hurt someone in the past? Do they have plans to hurt someone now? The more specific your questions are, the better you can assess the level of risk. If it is possible to remove the person from the situation that is making them feel violent without putting yourself in danger, you should do so. For example if someone is having violent thoughts about a domestic partner, you should alert the partner. If a child is having violent thoughts toward classmates, you should keep them out of school until they have received help.
If you notice yourself feeling violent, there are ways you can deal with your anger to reduce the chances of becoming violent. Learn to talk about your feelings. Find a trusted friend or family member and begin to discuss your violent thoughts so that you can discover where they are coming from. Understanding the source of our feelings often diffuses them and keeps us from acting destructively. When you find yourself in a conflict, express yourself calmly without losing your temper or fighting. Make an effort to understand the situation from the other person's point of view. Developing our capacity to feel empathy makes us less inclined to hurt each other. Most importantly, consider the consequences of acting violently. Stop and think before you act.
Although, ideally we could stop violence by observing warning signs and defusing violent behavior before it is acted upon, it is also essential for us to know what to do when someone does become violent. Standing up to violence is critical to breaking the pattern and preventing future outbursts. If someone is threatening you with violence, it is important to remain calm and confident in the face of fear. Take a deep breath and stand up tall, maintain eye-contact and speak with a calm and assertive voice. Do not engage in any argument and avoid making threats, using provocative language and name-calling. Reply briefly and directly. Remove yourself from the situation, and then seek help.
There are three types of people involved in a violent situation: the perpetrator, the victim and the bystander. Our society is largely made up of bystanders -- people who observe violent or bullying behavior, but do little or nothing to stop it. The phrase "innocent bystander" is ironic; in reality, bystanders are as guilty as perpetrators when it comes to perpetuating the patterns of violence in this country.
To this day, domestic violence is still the leading cause of injury to women in the United States, and an average of 15 teenagers die from violent causes in the U.S. each day. America has a serious problem when it comes to violence. Our only hope of breaking the pattern is to provide our children with an emotional education and do away with the concept of the "innocent bystander."
By breaking out of our comfort zones and taking a powerful stance against violence, each of us can help prevent it. When it comes to violence, there is truly no excuse for looking the other way.

Lisa Firestone, PhD, is the Director of Research and Education for The Glendon Association. Since 1987, she has been involved in clinical training and applied research in suicide and violence. In collaboration with Dr. Robert Firestone, her studies resulted in the development of the Firestone Assessment of Self-Destructive Thoughts (FAST) and the Firestone Assessment of Violent Thoughts (FAVT). Dr. Firestone has published numerous professional articles, and most recently was the co-author of the books: Sex and Love in Intimate Relationships (APA Books, 2006), Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice(New Harbinger, 2002), and Creating a Life of Meaning and Compassion: The Wisdom of Psychotherapy (APA Books, 2003).

Reprinted with permission from

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Allergy Survival Guide

Monika pis, PhD, CPNP

The incidence of allergic disease has grown tremendously in the past years. Allergic rhinitis affects about 20 percent of the U.S. population and results in a decreased quality of life.

Allergic rhinitis is a combination of sneezing, congestion, nasal itching, and runny nose. These are caused by inflammation resulting from the contact with allergens (i.e. pollen, mold, dust mites, animal dander or saliva, as well as chemicals found in medications, beauty products, or food). In addition, some people are prone to experiencing systemic symptoms in response to allergen exposure. They may be overly fatigued and sleepy.

With moldy leaves on the ground and ragweed in the air, you might need to take certain steps to improve your quality of life if you are among seasonal allergic rhinitis sufferers. Here are some helpful tips:
  •  If you are allergic to ragweed, track the pollen count in your area. You may call the National Allergy Bureau at (800)-9-POLLEN, or reach it through the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology website: It will give you the pollen count for your region. 
  • Avoid the peak pollen count times of the early morning between 5-10 a.m. 
  • Ragweed pollen count is highest on hot, dry, and windy days. If you can, stay indoors on such days with your air conditioner on.
  • Keep car windows closed when driving.
  • Leave lawn mowing or leaf raking to someone else, but if you have to do yard work yourself, wear a mask.
  • Do not forget that pets can carry pollen on their fur, so give your Fido a bath after coming home from a walk.
  •  If you venture outside, change your clothes and consider a shower upon returning home (pollen likes to stick to hair!) 
  • Avoid damp places or walking on rainy days, as moisture promotes mold growth.

Another thing to consider is the fact that with the cooler weather, you and your family will tend to stay inside more so than during summertime. Remember to keep indoor allergens under control to prevent or minimize your allergy flare-ups:

  • Change furnace filters monthly.
  • Install a filter over bedroom air vents to prevent animal dander and mold from being blown in from other parts of the house.
  • Use window shades or curtains that can be washed more often than drapes.
  • Minimize the number of plants in the house (wet soil promotes mold growth).
  • Vacuum carpeted floors every other day to keep dust to minimum (use a HEPA vacuum filter to collect dust and dust mites).
  • Using an air conditioner on hot/humid days will keep pollen and mold spores outside.
  • Keep in mind that mold likes to grow in the shower, so regularly clean it in with a bleach solution. 

If allergy symptoms strike despite your efforts to control your and your family’s exposure to allergens, there are more options to ease your suffering. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Herbs for Healthy Breast Milk Production

breastfeedingherbsBreastfeeding is the natural way to nurture a new baby, but sometimes the Milk of Momness needs Mother Nature’s help to flow freely.
Galactagogues (‘galact’ or ‘galacto’ is the Greek prefix that means milk, and the suffix ‘agogos’ means flow) are nature’s herbal gifts to lactating women and have been used for centuries to help increase milk supply. Herbal galactagogues can help stingy milk flow from healthy mama to healthy baby.
Anise Seed (Pimpinella Anisum) is a culinary spice and a digestive herb that helps dispel gas and relieve indigestion and nausea as well as increase milk flow. According to the German Commission E, it is used in combination with Fennel seed and Caraway seed for dyspeptic conditions and gastrointestinal discomfort.
Blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus) is a bitter tasting herb that is often used in galactagogue teas and tinctures. The bitters stimulate the secretion of saliva and gastric juices. There is also much historical evidence that it helps increase breast milk. Blessed Thistle should not be consumed during pregnancy.
Chaste Tree (Vitex) has historically been used to treat everything from hangovers to flatulence and fevers to increasing breastmilk production. It has also been studied for reducing the symptoms of PMS and menopause.
Goat’s rue (Galega officinalis) has been recommended by the German commission E for its use as a galactagogue. Its galactagogue properties were first noted to effectively increased milk in goats. It is used by nursing mothers and by farmers to increase milk production in their livestock. It grows so aggressively that it is now classified as a noxious weed. Goat’s rue should not be confused with Rue (Ruta graveolens), which is used in primitive cultures as a powerful uterine stimulant and abortifacient.
Fennel Seed (Foeniculum vulgare) is shown to increase milk production in goats and has long been used as a galactagogue by breastfeeding women. This licorice-tasting herb is also used as a digestive aid that can help to soothe a colicky breastfed baby and ease postpartum discomfort. It is contraindicated (do not use) during pregnancy.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is one of the herbs most often used to help increase breast milk supply. Its sweet/spicy flavor is popularly used in a variety of culinary dishes, including Indian curry. It is used to help soothe digestion and is well documented to effectively decrease cholesterol and blood sugar as well as increasing breast milk supply. It is generally recognized as safe, although because of its ability to stimulate the uterus, it is not for use during pregnancy. Large amounts of fenugreek can cause maple syrup like odor in the sweat, milk and urine and it should be avoided by people with asthma or an allergy to chickpeas.
Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) is a liver protecting seed that has demonstrated has liver protecting qualities and has even been used to successfully treat mushroom poisoning. This marvelous little seed has recently been shown to interfere with the promotion and progression of prostate, breast and endocervical tumor cells. A very recent study documented that women using milk thistle had significant increase in breast milk over the population using a placebo.
Nettle (Urtica dioica) is a deliciously nutritive vegetable that contains easily digestible iron, calcium, vitamin K, and folic acid, and is a wonderful pregnancy tonic. Traditional wisdom supports its safe use during lactation to increase breast milk as well as for providing nutritive support for the nursing mother.
Red Raspberry leaf (Rubus idaeus) is also a richly nutritive uterine tonic herb, high in minerals that helps support and strengthen postpartum and breastfeeding women.
If you can’t find reputable organic herbs, or you don’t know your tincture from your tisane, a blended galactagogue tea like Organic Milkmaid Tea is probably your best bet. Sipping a soothing cup of tea is a great way to relax and take care of yourself, and encourage your incredible body to do what it naturally knows how to do.
Everyone wants the best for their baby, from breast milk’s disease-fighting antibodies to its reputation for lowering risk of ear infection, asthma and childhood obesity. Nothing matches the bonding and precious together time that breastfeeding provides. With herbal help from Mother Nature, low breast milk is no reason to quit.

Babies have always been a passion of mine, even at a very young age. It was not surprising to my family that I chose a career as a neonatal nurse. Throughout my nursing career, I have cared for many infants and have been exposed to a multitude of parental concerns. Utilizing my knowledge, skill and expertise, I have assisted many parents in transitioning into their new roles. Through the gratification of helping these families, the vision of Babies 411 was born.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How Asthma Friendly Is Your Childcare Setting?

asthmaThe Checklist is a seven-item list in a scorecard format that can be used by parents and child-care providers to help pinpoint specific areas that may cause problems for children with asthma. It is available in English and Spanish. It is accompanied by an extensive list of organizations that can serve as useful resources to child-care staff to make asthma-friendly changes in their environment.
Children with asthma need proper support in child-care settings to keep their asthma under control and be fully active. Use the checklist below to find out how well your child-care setting assists children with asthma:
• Is the child-care setting free of tobacco smoke at all times?
• Is there good ventilation in the child-care setting? Are allergens and irritants that can make asthma worse reduced or eliminated?

Check if any of the following are present:
◦ Cockroaches
◦ Dust mites (commonly found in humid climates in pillows, carpets, upholstery, and stuffed toys)
◦ Mold
◦ Furry pets
◦ Strong odors or fumes from art and craft supplies, pesticides, paint, perfumes, air fresheners, and cleaning chemicals

• Is there a medical or nursing consultant available to help child-care staff write policy and guidelines for managing medications in the child-care setting, reducing allergens and irritants, promoting safe physical activities, and planning field trips for students with asthma?
• Are child-care staff prepared to give medications as prescribed by each child's physician and authorized by each child's parent? May school-aged children carry their own asthma medicines when appropriate? Is there someone available to supervise children while taking asthma medicines and monitor correct inhaler use?
• Is there a written, asthma action plan for each child in case of a severe asthma episode (attack)? Does the plan make clear what action to take? Whom to call? When to call?
• Does a nurse, respiratory therapist, or other knowledgeable person teach child-care staff about asthma, asthma management plans, reducing allergens and irritants, and asthma medicines? Does someone teach all the older children about asthma and how to help a classmate who has it?
• Does the child-care provider help children with asthma participate safely in physical activities? For example, are children encouraged to be active? Can children take or be given their medicine before exercise? Are modified or alternative activities available when medically necessary?
If the answer to any question is "no," children in your child-care setting may be facing obstacles to controlling their asthma. Uncontrolled asthma can hinder a child's attendance, participation, and progress in school. Child-care staff, health professionals, and parents can work together to remove obstacles and promote children's health and development.
Contact the organizations listed for information about asthma and helpful ideas for making school policies and practices more asthma-friendly. Federal and State laws are in place to help children with asthma.
Resources for Families and School Staff
National Asthma Education and Prevention Program 
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Information Center
(301) 251-1222
Allergy & Asthma Network 
Mothers of Asthmatics
(800) 878-4403 or (703) 641-9595
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 
(800) 822-ASMA or (414) 272-6071
American Academy of Pediatrics 
(800) 433-9016 or (847) 228-5005
American Association for Respiratory Care 
(972) 243-2272
American Association of School Administrators
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 
(800) 842-7777 or (847) 427-1200
American Lung Association 
For the affiliate nearest you, call 
(800) LUNG USA
American School Health Association
(330) 678-1601
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America 
(800) 7-ASTHMA or (202) 466-7643
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Division of Adolescent and School Health
(800) CDC-INFO
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Environmental Health
Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effects
(800) CDC-INFO
National Association of School Boards
(703) 838-6722
National Association of School Nurses
(866) 627-6767
National Association of State Boards of Education
(703) 684-4000
U.S. Department of Education 
Office for Civil Rights, Customer Service Team 
(800) 421-3481 or (202) 205-5413
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
• Indoor Environments Division 
(202) 233-9370
• Indoor Air Quality Information Clearinghouse 
(800) 438-4318

Asthma can be controlled; expect nothing less.
Reprinted with permission form the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Asthma at a Glance

Monika Pis, PhD, CPNP

The school year has begun.  If your child has asthma, he may be at a higher risk for asthma flare-ups at this time. According to one study, in which over 80,000 asthma related hospital records of children 5 to 15 years old were analyzed over a period of 13 years, more children were hospitalized for asthma exacerbations in September than at any other time of the year (Johnston, et al., 2006). The high incidence of asthma attacks in September might be related to several factors: the season change with more mold spores floating in the air, colder weather, and exposure to other children at school. However, do not be fooled, as asthma might strike at any time. 

Asthma is a chronic lung disease and even though it is unpredictable, you can gain control over it by working together with your health care provider. Asthma should not prevent anybody from doing what he or she wants, should, or enjoys doing! So, if your child's asthma is out of control, establish a partnership with you health care provider to devise a treatment plan that will improve your child's quality of life! Do not let asthma control you. Become its master.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the lungs. The airways get inflamed, swell up, and get plugged up with mucus in response to various triggers. When inflammation is present, you may notice symptoms such as coughing or wheezing at night or with physical activity. Additionally, in response to asthma triggers, you may experience bronchoconstriction, which is the tightening of muscles around the airway. Asthma is a chronic disease. Therefore, it is present at all times even though you may be symptom-free at times. Also, asthma’s severity may vary depending on what triggers the symptoms.

Asthma triggers are things that provoke an asthma attack. Those triggers are different for different people. Therefore, it is very important to recognize what triggers your or your child’s asthma attacks, so that you can avoid the causes of your asthma exacerbations. Common triggers of asthma attacks are pollen and outdoor molds, dust, animal hair or dander, cockroaches, indoor molds, cigarette smoke, wood smoke, or strong odors. In addition, upper respiratory infections, exercise, and weather changes may cause an asthma attack. Always be aware of what triggers your asthma!

Asthma symptoms may range from coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, to difficulties breathing.

Children and adults with uncontrolled asthma cough at night. They also cough and/or run out of breath with physical activity and while laughing or crying and cannot keep up with their friends, get tired quicker than their peers, and may complain of chest tightness. Also, your asthma is not adequately controlled if you have a need to use your rescue inhaler, such as albuterol, more than twice a week. If any of this is true for you or your family members, talk to your health care provider as soon as possible.

According to the Center of Disease Control, there were 5.1 million children with asthma in the United States in 2004. In 2003, 3.2 million had an asthma attack. On average, 3 out ten children have asthma.

Asthma is one of the leading causes of missed days at school. In 2003, an estimated 12.8 million school days were missed due to asthma.

Asthma treatment in children younger than 18 years costs an estimated $3.2 billion a year.

Asthma is the third-ranking cause of hospitalizations among children younger than 15 years.