Preventable tragedies: It’s time to tackle needless suffering

July 20, 2017 – SPECIAL BLOG – Last weekend I came across another story about a tragedy that was the result of an asthma attack.  A young girl, 15, on vacation with her family, suffered a severe attack after a fun day at an amusement park, an annual summer trip, and then an evening visit to the hotel pool.  Circumstances like this for most of the population are not dangerous, but for an asthmatic, exposure triggers can be anywhere and everywhere.

Doctors can’t pinpoint what triggered 15-year-old’s asthma attack; Burke High junior remains in ICU

It is always sad when an asthma attack has such a tragic result for the patient, in this case, a teenage girl full of vitality, but even more so when the circumstances may be preventable.  Such situations only reinforce why it is so critical to empower patients with technology that can track the conditions under which a flare-up occurs.

We can do better than this!  Doctors need to stop trying to pinpoint causes after the fact and do a better job of preparing asthma patients for the exposures they ‘may’ encounter. Providers need to embrace the asthma education necessary to prepare a patient to live daily with this chronic condition.  Patients need to feel empowered as they manage and control against the worst outcomes of their condition.  The key to prevention is understanding your exposure triggers based on real experiences, so that the patient and provider can be partners in avoiding these scary and costly episodes in the future.

Patients need to be sensitized to recognize when they are experiencing the earliest onset symptoms, understand the exposures, and draw on a vast knowledge base of exposure intelligence to prepare them to avoid the triggers that pose a greater risk for them.  Often an acute asthma attack can be the result of an exposure hours or even days earlier.  Often the patient may not even feel that their breathing has been hampered any.  However, a successive trigger comes along and exacerbates the problem because it further restricts the patient’s airway and makes breathing even more difficult.

Asthma sufferers feel they are at the mercy of the weather and their environment, but as with anything, if you measure the impacts, you can manage and control the risks.  Our system must to a better job of helping patients avoid negative outcomes for patients living with a chronic condition like asthma.

Whether a result of heat, humidity, bad air quality, pollen, or chlorine (or all the above) from a hotel pool and hot tub, this family has been impacted dramatically and forever.  If you missed it in the article, you may donate at a GoFundMe account created last week for the family to cover their medical bills.  And, prayers and best wishes for a full recovery to Diamond.

Next Blog – Allergic Asthma – Asthma Education and Triggers, and Patient Empowerment

Authored by Eric Klos, Founder and CEO of HEALTHeWeather, this bi-weekly blog is related to weather and environmental factors impacting patient health. Sign up for the DailyBreath, the 1st solution powered by HEALTHeWeather, coming to market this summer.