Asthma’s like breathing through a straw

Gabino Vega
April 25, 2007
Filed under Features

People need to be educated about asthma triggers as well as preventions to improve life for young children who have asthma and struggle throughout their whole lives, said American Lung Association officials.
Kern County has the worst air in the United States, which increases the chances of diseases like asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
“The thing that makes me the saddest is when I see children suffering needlessly, and I know all it takes is asthma education, and life would be much easier. If you can’t breathe, then nothing matters,” said Sharon Borradori, 59, an asthma patient.
She is the program director for the American Lung Association of California and is constantly working to educate people with lung problems. “When I got the job, I did not know anything about asthma,” said Borradori. “But now, I love educating.”
Borradori mentioned that some things asthma patients are bothered by are hot air, pollen, tobacco smoke, indoor mold, earaches, and even cockroaches.
Borradori lives with her husband, a bicycle trainer, and she has four kids. Two of them are diagnosed with asthma. She encourages her kids to take their daily medications in order to not suffer an asthma attack.
Borradori described her worst asthma attack: Yearly she and her husband go to a bicycle event on the Central Coast. She was the coordinator for the event and had been very active throughout the three-day event. After having some difficulty breathing, she ignored it because she was constantly moving and did not have time to take her medication.
“On the last day, I was on the dance floor until my attack hit, and the paramedics had to get me out,” said Borradori, with gestures of the way she felt. “I could have died, but it was my entire fault.”
Since there is no cure for asthma, organizations like the American Lung Association of California are holding events to educate and raise funds for lung awareness. A recent event in Bakersfield was the Blow the Whistle on Asthma Walk. The main purpose of this event was to raise $100,000 to turn a mobile home into an asthma clinic office.
More than 600 people participated in the walk held at Yokuts Park, but it was not enough to raise the total needed.
Many people in Bakersfield have asthma and many of us do not know what causes asthma. People who get asthma attacks have a clogged bronchial tube. The bronchial tube allows oxygen to go into the lungs and carbon dioxide out, to the outside. Sometimes the tube becomes swollen and it makes it harder to get air. “You will never know what it’s really like because it’s so frightening,” said Borradori.
An experiment everybody should try is to get a coffee straw, lock your lips on to it and hold your nose. Start breathing and don’t let go of the straw, that’s what an asthma attack could feel like, Borradori said.
To help prevent asthma attacks in chronic sufferers, people can reduce their smoking and car travel time activities. It should be noted that the majority of air pollution comes from car exhaust and cow manure, Borradori said.
For people who suffer from asthma and would like to know if the air quality is great or not, should check the local news forecast and the daily newspaper. The air quality flag program has four colors: green for good, yellow for moderate, orange for unhealthy, and red for extremely unhealthy. Also, schools usually have one of these flags at the beginning of the school day to notify asthma patients.
For more information on the American Lung Association of California please call (661) 847-4700 or email sharon@kernlung.org.

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