The Connection Journey: A Doctor Commited to Helping Kids with Asthma

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

Ten percent of the kids in
Colorado have or in the United States have asthma. It’s the
most common chronic disease of childhood. Eighty percent of the
kids with asthma have allergies. You can have allergies and not
have asthma, and you can have asthma and not have allergies.
But if they go together, then the allergies are going to make
the asthma worse. And in Colorado where we are dry, we
have different things that people are allergic to than in
Houston where it’s very humid and they have mold and other
things that people will be allergic to. So there’s a little
bit of difference here in Colorado just because we have
different things to be allergic to. But the altitude itself
doesn’t in any way affect their asthma. Allergies to specific
things–so somebody might be allergic to a cat, and if they
run into a cat, that’s going to have them have a hard time. Some
kids are allergic to grass and trees and outside. So we need to
help them control the things that are outside. Smoke from
wildfires or whether it’s tobacco smoke or any other kind
of smoke that can be generated, that’s almost always going to
contribute to an asthma exacerbation. And it certainly
has been very well shown to make asthma exacerbations worse. So
when kids have asthma attacks, if they live in a home where
there is smoke, their attacks are going to be worse. than kids
who live in a smoke-free home. If you come to Children’s, then
when you are seen in the clinic for asthma, if your child ever
gets sick and you come to the Emergency Department for asthma,
all those records are there. And it may actually be some of the
same people that you saw in clinic that saw you in the
Emergency Department. And if you get admitted to the hospital,
again, all of that is there. And we are here to take care of kids
when they are really sick and we are here to take care of kids
when they are well enough to just be in school. We were able
to cut that return rate in half. So we decreased the number of
kids that would come back in a year– the next year–not the
next week or 30 days–those rates were already really low.
But those kids who had a chronic disease who had to ever come
back within the next year, we cut in half. In the school
program, we have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of kids
seen in the school program who have to come to the Emergency
Department or have to be admitted to the hospital. I
think the most important thing to know about asthma is that a
kid with asthma can do whatever they want, whenever they want.
If we are doing our jobs as providers, and we find the right
therapy for them, we work as partners and they are taking the
therapies that we’ve worked out together that’s going to work
best for that family, they can do whatever they want. They can
be in the Olympics. There’s Broncos players who have asthma.
There’s people who play in the NBA. And there are families who
are afraid to let their kids run around and play and go sledding.
I had one family say to me, “He’s better now, so when his
dad is outside shoveling snow, he stands at the window and
looks because he wants to go out in the cold and shovel show.” I
said, “Let him go outside, let him shovel snow.” He can go
sledding, he can do whatever he wants. And that’s mostly what I
want people to hear–whether they’re going to camp in the
mountains, going to school, they have to come to clinic or they
get sick. Children’s is here. And it’s a whole team effort and
our philosophy is to put the family in the middle of it all,
include their voices as we design the programs for them,
and we will continue to improve based upon what we hear from the
families and the kids.

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