Group talks about asthma

LIHU‘E — The Kauai Asthma Coalition holds a kickoff event in conjunction with the Filipino Fiesta today on the grounds of the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall.

KAC members will be present in the lobby of the convention hall armed with information and materials on asthma and secondhand smoke as part of May being National Asthma Awareness Month, said Jan Robinson, program coordinator for the American Lung Association Hawaii affiliate Kaua‘i office, in a press release.

“The goal of National Asthma Awareness Month is to educate the community about the importance of a timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment in the care of people with asthma,” Robinson said.

Asthma is a condition of the lungs, and cannot be cured, but it can be effectively treated.

Symptoms for asthma include a cough that doesn’t go away, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, and wheezing.

Robinson said according to the 2003 Hawaii Health Survey, 25,245 children and 53,700 adults in Hawai‘i currently have asthma.

The survey said asthma costs the Hawai‘i economy over $43 million annually.

The survey goes on to say that Native Hawaiians have the highest rates of asthma when compared with other major ethnic groups in Hawai‘i.

Asthma also appears to be associated with obesity, and infants and young children between 0 to 4 years of age continue to make up the majority of hospitalizations due to asthma.

“However, asthma-sufferers can lead an active and healthy life if they learn how to manage their asthma and to avoid the triggers that set off an asthma episode,” Robinson said.

These triggers may include smoke, mold, pollen and dust.

The KAC was formed as a result of the Community Initiative Project of the Hawaii Asthma Initiative, a part of the statewide Asthma Strategic Plan.

The group consists of workgroups focusing on strategies and activities to address asthma on Kaua‘i.

Robinson said these workgroups are staging a community-wide promotion of May as Asthma Awareness Month by providing continuing medical education, and other training and support to health professionals.

KAC will also incorporate culturally appropriate messages of the link between secondhand smoke as a cause and trigger of asthma.

KAC partners include the state Department of Health Kauai District Health Office, Hawaii Pacific Health, Ho‘ola Lahui Hawai‘i, Hawaii Medical Service Association Care Connection, Tobacco-Free Kauai Coalition, American Lung Association of Hawaii, Na Lei Wili AHEC, state Department of Education, Child and Family Service, Preschool Directors’ Association, Kauai Good Beginnings Alliance, and the state Department of Human Services.

For more information about KAC as well as a schedule of upcoming events, people can call Cash Lopez at the state DOH Kaua‘i District Health office, 241-3565.

• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.

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