Asthma Education

Managing Your Asthma Is Possible

Our all-inclusive program aims to give our patients the tools they need to become empowered and successful in managing their asthma. Through comprehensive education and a personalized action plan, we can help you become successful in gaining control of your asthma. Our education program focuses on the key topics of anatomy, triggers (recognition and avoidance), early warning signs, symptoms, and medications. If you have asthma and want to learn more about managing it, we highly encourage you to contact your COPC physician for a referral to our program.

A breath of fresh air

Since the inception of our asthma education program in 2001, we have seen the following statistics among our asthmatic patients:

84% less asthma-related Emergency Room and Urgent Care visits

93% less asthma-related hospitializations

60% less unnecessary office visits

We attribute this to the fact that our patients gained the knowledge and skills necessary to overcome and self-manage their asthma.

View Program Information

About Our Program



Getting Started

COPC patients who are diagnosed with asthma are referred to the program by their primary care physician. If you are a COPC asthma patient that participates in our program, you will receive individualized education and pulmonary function testing so that your physician and asthma educator can determine the level of treatment needed. If there is concern about exercise-induced asthma, you will also run for 10 to 15 minutes as part of your pulmonary function testing to see if exercise is a problem for you.


Following Up

As a result of completing our program, you will walk away with a personalized action plan and instructions on how to properly use asthma devices (inhalers, spacers and peak flow meters.) From there, you will be followed by the asthma educator and receive follow-up visits at least every six months. Your disease is then managed by your COPC physician and the asthma educator with the ultimate goal of decreasing Emergency Room/ Urgent Care visits, hospitalizations, and unnecessary physician office visits.

Will my child outgrow asthma?

Asthma cannot be cured but it can be controlled. Your child will always have sensitive airways, but they may just go through periods of time where they experience no symptoms. If they have non-allergic asthma there is a higher chance for the child to be symptom free when they get older. When children get older, their airways get bigger and their symptoms may be less severe.

Why does my child have to take daily medications for asthma?

Inflammation/swelling of the airway linings result in physical changes throughout the lungs that can lead to asthma attacks. The inflammation or swelling can be reversed by taking medications every day to reduce the severity. When you decrease the inflammation/swelling, bronchial reactivity decreases which results in less frequent asthma attacks. The full effect of the medication will not be experienced unless the medicine is taken daily as prescribed.

Program Topics



Symptoms

Many changes take place in the lungs during an asthma attack, and if these changes have not been controlled by asthma medicines, the body reacts by showing physical symptoms. The goal of our asthma education program is to help keep our patients' asthma under control and to keep these symptoms from developing and reoccurring. If you have any of the following symptoms, it means the asthma episode is bad and you should get immediate care from your doctor.

  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Sucking in of the chest (retractions)
  • Prolonged breathing out
  • Fast breathing
  • Nasal flaring
  • Unable to finish a word or sentence
  • Blue-gray lips and nail beds
  • Peak flow in the red zone


Early Warning Signs

Asthma attacks rarely occur without warning because most people show physical signs hours before any symptoms appear. By knowing your warning signs and acting on them, you may be able to avoid a serious asthma attack. Examples of early warning signs include:

  • Dry hacking cough
  • Itchy eyes and throat
  • Sneezing or runny nose
  • Fast breathing
  • Headache
  • Pale, clammy skin
  • Heaviness and tightness in the chest
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Feeling out of sorts- nervous or grumpy
  • Drop in peak flow reading


Triggers

A trigger is an object or event that causes a person with asthma to have a reaction and show symptoms that may lead to an asthma attack. Exposures to triggers build up over time, but it may take one exposure to one trigger or numerous exposures to several triggers for asthma symptoms to begin. Examples of triggers include:

  • Molds
  • Strong odors and fumes
  • Weather
  • Dust mites
  • Exercise
  • Cockroaches
  • Colds, flu, and respiratory illnesses
  • Wood and tobacco smoke
  • Pets
  • Fur and feathers


Impacts on the Airways

Asthma affects how the lungs work and how much oxygen is delivered to the body. During an asthma attack, the lining of the airways becomes inflamed/sensitive and thick mucus begins to accumulate, causing the opening in the airways to become smaller. As the attack progresses the muscles around the airways tighten, which makes the opening in the airways to become even smaller. This combination of events block the flow of air and makes it harder for air to pass through the airways, which in turn makes it hard to breathe.

If a child has asthma, can they play sports?

Yes they can. It's important to note that most children with asthma can fully participate in any sport despite having asthma. Children and parents need to follow the doctor’s orders and take the daily medications as prescribed to keep the asthma under control. The child will need to warm up/ cool down and may need to pre-medicate with the rescue medications prior to participating in the sport.

Will the asthma get better if my family moves to a different climate?

The child with asthma may be symptom free for a period of time. This is usually during the first couple of months while the body adjusts to a different climate and exposures to different allergens. Once the body’s defense system adjusts to this exposure of different trees, grasses, pollen, etc. the allergic response is triggered and the episodes may become worse or better than before. It is important for the child with asthma to live in the environment for 3-4 months prior to moving the entire household, especially if this is the only reason to relocate.

Meet the Team


Barb Mulford

Respiratory Therapist


Barb Mulford is a Registered Respiratory Therapist with an Associate’s Degree in Allied Health, Respiratory Therapy from Columbus State Community College.  She has worked for COPC since 2000 as the Pediatric Asthma Educator, and has been a Certified Asthma Educator for 12 years. She has dedicated most of her career to Asthma Education and Disease Management. 

Barb previously worked for Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Central Ohio Breathing Association and Riverside Methodist Hospital.  She has served as a board member and past president for the Ohio Respiratory Care Board and Ohio Department of Health’s Asthma Coalition.  She is dedicated to helping children and their families learn to manage their asthma and learn to participate in any activity they so desire by leaning management skills that they can use from childhood to adulthood. 

The program’s goal is to reduce hospitalizations, Emergency Room visits and use of oral steroids by using an asthma action plan and self-management skills.