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The American Lung Association of Massachusetts Celebrates Annual Breathe Easy Month ~ May 1998 and Fights Asthma

FOR RELEASE: May 1, 1998 through May 31, 1998 

BOSTON, MA - - Asthma is a disease of all age groups, but the steepest recent increases in asthma cases have been among the young. Asthma is afflicting nearly five million children in the U.S. alone. It is one of the most common chronic illnesses among children. The disease is on the rise in cities and suburbs alike, and is most prevalent in the inner cities, where asthma rates are often double those found elsewhere. Asthma is also the leading cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness.

Lungs allow oxygen to enter the body in exchange for its waste product, carbon dioxide. As the oxygen passes through the nose and mouth, it is rapidly warmed and moistened to avoid injury to the delicate linings of the airways. The nose and airways also trap large particles such as dust, pollen, molds or bacteria, as well as chemicals, smoke or odors, which could cause serious injury to the lungs. Within the lungs are millions of small airways that carry oxygen to the tiny air sacs called alveoli. The delicate cellular lining of the airways is the mucosa, which is coated with a thin layer of mucus as is present in the nose, to trap and remove foreign particles during the lungs' normal cleansing process.

In asthma, the normal airway function designed to protect the lungs becomes excessive. For reasons not entirely known, the airways become abnormally sensitive to infection, weather, exercise, irritants and allergens. The muscles then tighten in a bronchospasm and the mucosa begins to swell, which reduces the diameter of the airways. In addition, mucus production is increased, sometimes forming sticky plugs in the bronchial tubes.

Even though asthma cannot be cured, it can almost always be controlled, especially in children. The degree of control varies with each child and begins by learning which trigger factors are important to the child. Since no two children with asthma are alike, it is important that a medical professional make an individualized, comprehensive evaluation to determine trigger factors.

Many children use inhaled bronchodilator medications to manage their asthma. School children may be likely to supervise their own medication under the direction of parents and/or school nurses. Often, parents of asthmatic students are uncertain as to how many doses their child has taken on any day from his/her inhaler, or even how many doses of medication are left in the inhaler.

However, there is now a new tool to assist asthmatic children or adults and put an end to the guesswork on whether or not the prescribed dose has been taken or how much medication remains. That tool is the DOSER™, a counter for Metered Dose Inhalers (MDIs), an innovative product from NEWMED Corporation, located in Billerica, MA.

The DOSERä displays the number of inhalations remaining in the inhaler; displays the number of ‘puffs' taken during the current day; stores up to 30 days usage history in a separate memory and has a three"beep" alert which informs the user when fewer than 20 inhalations remain in the canister.

The concept for the DOSER was inspired by the experience of an asthmatic youth who was caught with an empty inhaler during an asthma attack at a sporting event and ended up in an hospital emergency room. With the easy-to-use and durable DOSER, children, parents and school nurses, as well as adult asthma patients, can now more accurately monitor medication usage. The DOSER attaches to the top of virtually all prescription inhalers, except Atrovent and Tilade.

NEWMED Corporation and DOSER have joined the American Lung Association of Massachusetts (ALAM) to celebrate Breathe Easy Month during May and to promote the American Lung Association's Open Airways for Schools® program.

Open Airways for Schools® is a fun, easy and effective program that teaches children valuable asthma management skills. Open Airways For Schools® was designed to teach children, ages 8 to 11, how to detect the warning signs of asthma, including the environmental factors that can trigger an attack. The program informs students of the actions they must take to help prevent an asthma attack, and empowers them to better manage their asthma with the assistance of parents, teachers and school nurses.

Open Airways for Schools® was originally tested among 200 children. The children who completed the program demonstrated more confidence in their ability to manage asthma; improved school performance; exerted greater influence on their parents' asthma management decisions; had fewer episodes of asthma that were of shorter duration; and took more steps to manage their asthma. The program is approved and recommended by the National Association of School Nurses.

Elementary schools or individuals desiring more information on Open Airways for Schools® program or the DOSER should call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872).

Throughout Breathe Easy Month, the American Lung Association of Massachusetts will offer information to help Massachusetts' residents cope with and curtail asthma as well as other lung disease such as, emphysema and chronic bronchitis; sponsor programs such as Open Airways for Schools® , Better Breathers Clubs or Freedom From Smoking®; and promote local activities to raise funds for advocacy and education.

For more information about Breathe Easy Month, Open Airways for Children® , Clean Air Week (May 24-30, 1998), Clean Air Challenge™ events, Freedom From Smoking®, lung health, or other programs, events and activities in your community, call your local American Lung Association office at 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or 617- 787-LUNG (617-787-5864).

Visit our website at http://www.lungusa.org for additional information on lung health and for the address and telephone number of nationwide ALA offices and activities. More information on the DOSER is available at www.doser.com.


 The American Lung Association has been fighting lung disease for over 90 years. With the generous support of the public and the help of our volunteers, we have seen many advances against lung disease. However, our work is not finished. As we look forward to our second century, we will continue to make breathing easier for everyone. Along with our medical section, the American Thoracic Society, we provide of education, community service, advocacy and research. The American Lung Association's activities are supported by donations to Christmas Seals® and other voluntary contributions.


When You Can't Breathe,
Nothing Else Matters®



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