Thursday, January 22, 2004

Aspiring despite asthma

HMSA's 2004 asthma calendar
features art by children and tips
to deal with the condition

The challenges of living with asthma and breathing-related problems are not keeping Hawaii children from "dreaming big dreams."

More than 200 kids ages 4 to 12 submitted drawings for the Hawaii Medical Service Association's 2004 asthma calendar.

The theme: "Asthma doesn't stop me from dreaming big dreams."

The 13 winners -- one for each month and the cover -- depict aspirations ranging from becoming a pilot or astronaut and playing tackle football to "reaching for the stars."

A chronic lung disease, asthma affects more than 106,000 Hawaii residents, including about 33,000 under age 15, according to a Hawaii Health 2001 survey. The disease disrupts school for children more than any other chronic condition.

Dolores Yanagihara, with HMSA Care Management, said a cross-section of HMSA employees selected the winning drawings.

"We wanted to do something that looked nice, but, more importantly, how did they portray the theme?" Yanagihara said.

The winners are: Cristin Lim, of Honolulu, age 10; Kristine Omura, of Kula, Maui, 11; Gavin Honke, of Mililani, 5; Maya Munguia, of Wahiawa, 10; Alana Lilly, of Honolulu, 5; Brandi Rapozo, of Hilo, 11; Kylie Lum, of Ewa Beach, 7; Kaydee Rapozo, of Hilo, 6; Cody Murakami, of Haleiwa, 9; Tyler Calistro, of Kailua, 9; Blayne Morris-Kato, of Waipahu, 6; Taylor Ann Yamane, of Mililani, 5; and Empress H. Rivera, of Kapolei, 11.

Besides depicting their goals, each month contains information about asthma, triggers leading to asthma attacks and suggestions to reduce exposure.

Works by Empress Rivera, of Kapolei, left, and Cody Murakami, of Haleiwa, are featured in the asthma calendar.

Common symptoms of asthma are shortness of breath, wheezing and whistling sounds, chest tightness and a nagging cough.

Smoke, dust, pet fur, food, exercise, mold, colds, pollution and weather are among typical asthma triggers. Tobacco smoke is cited as the most common irritant.

Information on the calendar includes inhaled airborne allergens; reactions and how to avoid them; effects of different weather conditions, including vog; how to manage emotions and stress; and how to prevent heartburn, which affects about 75 percent of people with asthma.

Tips also are included to prevent cold and flu infections, which can trigger asthma attacks, causing swelling and narrowing of airways.

A drawing of a child playing soccer is featured for November with information about exercise causing asthma. It says, however, that "even if you have exercise-induced asthma, you can enjoy exercise if you take preventive steps."

People with asthma also can enjoy traveling if they plan ahead, the calendar says.

Several pages are devoted to asthma prevention tips and special considerations for pregnant women with asthma and "late-onset asthma" in many seniors.

Also included is an asthma control plan, which patients can create with their doctor to monitor and record their progress.

Three zones are listed for asthma management: green for "go," meaning there are no symptoms, permitting normal activities; yellow for "caution," because of symptoms indicating an attack may occur soon without preventative action; and red, meaning "stop" and contact your doctor immediately because of serious symptoms.

Calendars have been mailed to about 30,000 homes statewide with one or more HMSA members identified with asthma, and to nearly 700 doctors who treat them, Yanagihara said.

She said a few hundred left over are available to the community, one per person, by asking the receptionist in HMSA's lobby at 818 Keeaumoku St.

HMSA has produced the asthma calendar for five years, with children's art displayed the last three years.

"Each year, we are so impressed with the talent of Hawaii's kids," said Cliff Cisco, HMSA senior vice president.

He said the overall message is important because "the more you learn about asthma and what triggers it, the better able you are to control it."


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