Friday Links – Asthma and Pneumonia, Health Literacy, Images of Summer

Asthma Kids with the Flu More Likely to Develop Pneumonia
Well, okay. You probably already know about the dangerous link between kids’ asthma and flu-related pneumonia, but apparently until this research, asthma was only a confirmed risk factor  in adults, not children. In fact, asthma may up the chance of pneumonia as much as 40%.

Simplifying Medical Info = Better Med Compliance, Patient Outcomes
That’s the theory behind the new push for health literacy and clear, uncomplicated language on medical forms and websites, anyway.

Pushing for better health literacy is definitely more constructive than the *Blogs are BAD/Medical Information on the Internet is BAD* argument, don’t you think?

I feel like a researcher somewhere maybe even actually asked the question, “But why – WHY – do people research medical information on blogs?”

Oh, yeah. Because bloggers talk to readers like they are actual people, rather than just throwing complex terminology at them and hoping something sticks.

Read This Description of Drowning Because it Could Save Your Child’s Life
Now that I have your attention:

Seriously, read it. This excellent article about drowning and how it looks completely different from what the movies portray made the rounds on Twitter all week long. Unless you have lifeguard training or some kind of aquatic survival experience, the image in your head probably doesn’t match up to the reality.

Hint: drowning sounds quieter and looks less obvious than you think.

Photo Gallery: The Better Side of Summer
I know you East Coasters have been sitting around in a puddle of your own sweat this week because of the recent heat wave, so have a fabulous Boston.com collection of seasonal images instead.

24 responses to “Friday Links – Asthma and Pneumonia, Health Literacy, Images of Summer”

  1. Katherine says:

    I’m a certified lifeguard and one of the first things you learn about drowning is that perpendicular to the surface spells trouble unless they are obviously treading water. Anything more than about 45 degrees from the surface is something to watch because they could easily slip under from that struggling point.
    If your child/friend etc is drowning without a lifeguard who can perform the rescue. Hook under thier arm pits from the back. If you try to grab from the front they will often instinctively latch on to you in such a way that you cannot pull them to safety.

  2. Amy says:

    Thanks for the added information. Literally, this stuff is a lifesaver!

  3. Kelley says:

    Wow… I’m still fighting internally over whether to get my AG swim lessons.. we have SO much water around here (NW), but I am terrified of her aspirating & of, course, that the chlorine will trigger her asthma. This just scares me even more, yet also shows how important it is that she learns to swim (see above). Really, any tips on how to decide? She just turned 7 and has been really stable asthma-wise since her surgery in December, but… that fear of pneumonia again just never seems to really leave me & I just keep braced, on edge, for the next flare… Amy, have you actually been able to exhale yet, so to speak?

  4. Amy says:

    LOL…you mean with asthma in general, or with swimming in particular? I can tell you life is a lot easier with an 11 year-old asthma kid who can identify and describe her symptoms and know when to use her inhaler, though some things – weeklong, overnight “Outdoor Lab” through her school this fall, for example – still give me anxiety.

    As far as swimming goes, I have maybe not the average situation here. Because we lived in FL and – whether in our own house or in apartments – always had immediate access to outdoor pools & the beach AND because I stayed uninformed about asthma for too long when AG was little, she actually learned how to swim before I even knew chlorine could be a trigger. Both my daughters, in fact, could swim w/out flotation devices by the time they were 4 years-old. I was a Navy brat and always lived on the coast, so I was the same as a kid myself.

    Again, though, this was Florida, land of outside pools and the Gulf of Mexico. So they became strong swimmers, and I never had to make a decision about swim lessons (We were in the water so much that I taught them) or indoor pools.

    When AG has friends that can’t swim or who still hold their noses underwater, it shocks me. Logically, I know this is Colorado and these are kids who didn’t grow up swimming 8-9 months out of the year the way mine did, but I’m still always surprised.

    So I’m coming at this from a different perspective, but my two cents? I think all kids should learn how to swim as early as possible. Because each year after they learn, they just get stronger and safer and more sure of themselves in the water. You can always pre-treat and even talk to places about letting her do a trial lesson before committing to a full session, just to see how she does. Again, just my observation/opinion, but it seems like the older kids are when they learn how to swim, the longer it takes.

    I still have reservations about AG in indoor pools, but now that we live somewhere with a true winter, I’m slowly letting her use them more. So far she’s been fine (knock on wood), and it helps that her asthma is more stable now than at any other point her life.

  5. Sarah says:

    Kelley, you might want to ask the swim instructors if they can modify for your daughter a bit. That’s what they did for me: They kept all the exercises they could in the shallow end so that if I started to have a hard time breathing, I could put my feet down and rest or get out. When we absolutely had to go in the deep end, they told me I was not allowed outside of arm’s reach from the wall so that if I had trouble breathing, I could hang onto the wall, and they always had an extra instructor with lifeguard training on hand so that if I did start to struggle in the deep end and I couldn’t reach the wall for some reason (panic or whatever) they could fish me out. Due to my overall poor health and asthma control, they also modified the endurance exercises and said that if I could make it with only two rest breaks per lap (rest being floating on my back, unsupported), then I passed those tests – which they did in private with me because the other kids would have thought it really unfair that I got to rest and they didn’t. It worked, and it let me learn how to swim. Even so, I progressed a lot slower than most of my age peers, and by age 12, I dropped out of swimming lessons because I was still in level 6 (not because of asthma by that point – because mom wouldn’t let me go to swimming lessons more than one session per year, and I had a stupid instructor three years in a row who would fail all the kids in her group if even one didn’t pass, regardless of whether or not you earned your pass because she didn’t think it was fair for some to fail while others passed) and it was too embarrassing to be a 12-year-old in with a group of seven and eight year olds.

  6. Kelley says:

    Thank you both so much. A lot of it is irrational fear (that it will cause her asthma to be poorly controlled again, etc.) We do have a public outdoor pool, but is only open from June to August and the shallow end is not really shallow at all. There is a local indoor pool with a really highly rated swim instruction, so… they do say on their website that they have the option for “individualized” instruction for those with different needs, so I’ll call and see if they would be willing to do that for her. Really, I think I would have completely lost my mind if not for finding this site.

  7. Sarah says:

    May I recommend that you stay and watch your daughter’s swimming lessons? There were a few times (especially in the first few weeks) where they brushed off my respiratory distress as “you just swallowed some water” or something, and Mom had to intervene. Once they got to know me, though, they learned how to recognize when I was in trouble pretty well, but during the first few weeks, there were a couple really nasty attcks that could have been dangerous for me if Mom wasn’t there to pull me out for a “puffer break.”

  8. Amy says:

    Sarah has some great suggestions and if anything, I think her story illustrates the benefits of swimming lessons earlier rather than later. I know a couple of adults who never learned how to swim at all, and I think they sort of missed their window for feeling comfortable and unselfconscious enough in the water to really reap the benefits of the instruction, you know?

    Anyway, I’m guessing you probably plan to be there during the lesson no matter what, as Sarah mentions, (and I know I sure would). Maybe treat it like a new school year – have a meeting with the instructor beforehand and just hash it all out and make sure they know her health problems and your worries.

    Happy to help, and let us know what happens!

  9. Samantha says:

    I’ll weigh in a bit myself. Again though, bear in mind that we live in Texas. My kids (both my asthmatic girl and my non asthmatic boy) have been in the pool since they were literally newborns of just a few weeks old, since my dad has a pool at his house. We again never had lessons, i just have had the babies in the water with me from the get go and never needed specific lessons. I would vote for lessons, but if possible an outdoor pool might be better. Its never bothered my miss monkey, but we havent done indoor pools either…. Drowning scares me silly, so Im really glad ive been able to have them in the water from the begining

  10. MC says:

    Just an extra thought. I know mold triggers some people, especially indoor swimming pools. However, depending on environmental allergies, outdoor pools may not be the best idea from all the allergens and other stuff floating in the water. I’ve noticed that my nose gets turned on like a faucet when I swim in an outdoor pool, and I flare more afterwards, than the indoor pool here. However, the indoor pool here is a new pool, and is rather clean. It depends on your or your kid’s triggers (chlorine, mold, pollen…), and the particular pool you have in mind.

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