May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month and National Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month, and their sponsoring organizations — the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American and Cystic Fibrosis Foundation — have great resources you can use to let your communities know about these conditions and how RTs are involved in their care.
The AARC has a wealth of resources for therapists interested in furthering their own knowledge about these diseases as well.
Roughly 30,000 children and adults in the United States have cystic fibrosis, and 1,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 25 million Americans suffer from asthma and more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. Likely most of those patients receive care from a respiratory therapist during the course of their treatment.
The month of May presents a unique opportunity to help in the education of these ailments. For Cystic Fibrosis you may enjoy revisiting these stories from the past:
- We told the story of Jeremy Parks, a respiratory therapist and CF patient in the April 2013 issue of AARC Times.
- In a video showed at AARC Congress 2013, we related the unusual connection these two AARC members shared, one with CF who received a lung transplant. Listen to the stories of Ronda Passon and Sharon McRee.
When it comes to asthma and allergy awareness, we have compiled some of our favorite tips from several AARC members.
- RTs can serve their patients well by understanding the things that aggravate allergies/asthma and by teaching patients that the first and most important step is to reduce or eliminate exposure to irritants and allergens. Be prepared to talk about ways to minimize exposure to common allergens such as pollens, mold, pet dander, dust mites, etc. More tips from Mike
- The key is self-management: teaching patients to recognize when they have been exposed to a trigger and they need to recognize their “early warning signs” of asthma. This could be itchy throat, watering eyes or nose, coughing or sneezing. More tips from De De
- I always ask my patients, who are using a metered dose inhaler, to “teach back” to demonstrate how they are using the device. I have patients self-demonstrate regardless of how many times I see them in clinic. I have found many patients acquire poor technique over time and I do not take for granted they are using the MDI with spacer correctly. More tips from Dennis
- Anyone with asthma should have a written asthma action plan so they can determine on a frequent basis their asthma condition and implement appropriate therapy. That tends to keep people out of the Emergency Department. More tips from Tim
So, consider how you can put these resources to use in your care of asthma and cystic fibrosis patients, and then take your awareness activities out into the community too.