Recently one of our R.N. Asthma Educators was invited to speak to a classroom of third graders about asthma. One boy in the class who was known to have asthma told his teacher that he felt his classmates didn’t like him because he had asthma. He even felt they made fun of him when he was having difficulty breathing or when he could not run fast due to his asthma.
Our nurse started her class presentation by comparing the bronchial tubes with the branches of a tree, larger near the trunk, getting smaller near the end of the branches. She next asked what they thought might trigger asthma. One by one the children named triggers: cigarette smoke, car exhaust, having a cold, exposure to animals, grass pollen, house dust, feathers, playing in leaves, running or playing hard, cold air, strong smells.
The next question came from a classmate who wanted to know if you can catch asthma from someone like you catch a cold. Another student asked if you can die from asthma, still another wanted to know if you ever get over asthma. One child asked what you can do to help someone who is having difficulty with asthma.
She told them that their suggestions for triggers were exactly correct; no, asthma is not contagious like a cold or strep throat, you can’t catch asthma from another person. Death from asthma can happen, but is rare if treatment is followed as directed by the patient’s doctor. Helping someone with asthma is a matter of understanding and realizing the asthmatic person wants to be treated just like anyone else.
This third grade class taught their own lesson about asthma!