LOCATION: COMPTON, CALIFORNIA
Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. It causes recurring periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing.
Asthma is one of the most common chronic childhood disorders, afflicting an estimated 7.1 million children under the age of 18 in the USA. The disease can be life-threatening if not properly handled, says the American Lung Association.
During 2005-2006, 59 families graduated from Take Charge! after successfully completing the one-year program of in-home education, medication management, mitigation of environmental asthma triggers in the home and engagement in asthma-related civic issues.
The most common gaps in knowledge initially were:
- A lack of understanding regarding the difference between controller versus emergency asthma medications.
- A lack of knowledge regarding the proper use of an inhaler.
- Failure to comply with the prescribed dose and timing of the medication.
Myths about asthma medication represented one of the main reasons for failure to comply with prescribed medication regimens. A number of parents believed that asthma medication is addictive and that too much medication will make asthma worse. Some parents also did not understand that asthma medication must be administered consistently in order to be effective over time.
Success Story - Myths about Disorder Lead to Inconsistent Medication
Anthony is a 4-year-old who was first diagnosed with asthma at the age of one. His mom describes him as being “sick his whole life,” but insisted that she gave him his medication on time.
Anthony’s asthma case manager went through all the medication that had been prescribed and carefully explained to Anthony’s mother the purpose of each medicine. He had a controller medicine and a rescue inhaler. She explained to Anthony’s mother how each medicine worked and when to use it. She also told her that if she was consistent and saw no improvement on her child’s asthma, then that meant that she should go back and talk to her child’s doctor.
Anthony’s mother eventually confessed that she had not been consistent with the medication. She had decided to stop giving it to her son because she didn’t feel like she was seeing any improvement and because it was very hard trying to give him the medicine while he was crying. The asthma case manager sat down and had a lengthy conversation with her and was able to convince Anthony’s mother to be consistent with the medicine for a month, and that if she still did not see any changes the case manager would discuss with the doctor alternative medicines that might work better.
A month later, Anthony’s mother reported with great excitement to the case manager that she had adhered to the prescription and was seeing an improvement in her son’s condition. Anthony’s mother is now consistently giving her son the medicine as prescribed.