By Dr. Paul Ehrlich
One of our primary goals here at Asthma Allergies Children World Headquarters is to provide primary care doctors, patients, and parents of patients with the knowledge to improve treatment for the children under their care because the ranks of allergists are dwindling while demand is growing. I was reminded of this when I went poking around the website of the Asthma and Allergy Foundations of America, AAFA.org—see the link in the left-hand column of our pages.
I found some links to an excellent program I helped them with a few years ago called SleepWorkPlay (there’s more about it in our book). The basic premise was that the effectiveness of asthma treatment can be best assessed by the quality of the patient’s sleep, work (or school), and play. Poor control takes a toll on each. AAFA commissioned Harris research to conduct a survey for both pediatric and adult patients. What they found was disturbing:
“Key results show that the majority of asthma patients and caregivers incorrectly believe that their asthma symptoms are under control. Furthermore, conversations about severity of symptoms and treatment do not appear to be taking place between many sufferers and their HCPs [health care providers]. For example, less than one in two sufferers’ HCPs (47%) and (66%) of caregivers’ HCPs have initiated conversations about when asthma is severe enough to call a doctor or go to an emergency room.
“Most Asthma Patients Over-Estimate Level of Control: a majority of asthma patients believe that their asthma is under control (88%), despite the fact that:
• 61% have had to catch their breath while running upstairs,
• 50% have had to stop exercising midway through their regimen
• 48% have been woken up in the middle of the night as a result of their asthma
“Parents Over-Estimate Child’s Level of Control: a majority of asthma caregivers believe that their child’s asthma is under control (89%), despite the fact that:
• 49% of their children have had to miss days of school and/or work
• 49% of their children have had to stop exercising midway through their regimen
• 45% of their children have been woken up in the middle of the night as a result of their asthma
“More Than Half of Asthma Patients Say Their HCPs Have Never Talked About Attack Procedures:
• Less than one in two sufferers’ HCPs (47%) have initiated conversations about when asthma is severe enough to call a doctor or go to an emergency room. This number is a little higher for the caregivers (66%)”
If you look at Dr. Chiaramonte’s response to a question in the Parents Mailbag, you will see a case in point. A young female college student had asthma and was asked to refrain from intramural sports because her asthma was uncontrolled. Her family doctor had given her a peak flow meter but never taught her how to use it. Yet, many elite athletes, including David (Bend it Like) Beckham, suffer from asthma. I believe this story is repeated over and over again, millions of times a year. It doesn’t have to be that way. We hope to work with AAFA to revive and promote the SleepWorkPlay program.
By Dr. Paul Ehrlich