Making Winter Easier for People Who Have Asthma
As winter weather finally rolls in after a long, hot summer, healthcare professionals see more colds and flu too.
Winter’s dry, cold air can bring about a very stressful time of year for children and adults with asthma.
A simple cold virus can trigger an asthma episode because when you suffer from asthma, your lungs are already irritable and more reactive to common asthma triggers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in October, the number of adults who have asthma is 17.7 million. The number for children who suffer from asthma is 6.3 million. And while that number is staggering and there is no cure for asthma, it should be reassuring to know that according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the American Lung Association, asthma control is achievable for nearly every patient so that they can give a normal, healthy life.
Here are some tips for making winter easier on your asthma:
- Get a flu shot. The CDC recommends that everyone get an annual flu shot to help protect against the flu virus. Getting the flu and having asthma can be more problematic and cause added illness.
- Avoid sitting by a fireplace. While sitting by a fire is a peaceful and cozy thing to do in the winter, it’s not ideal for those with asthma. Wood burning creates smoke which can irritate the lungs.
- Know your asthma triggers. Keep note of things in your home that can trigger your asthma. Dust mites, pets and cleaners can cause you to cough, wheeze or struggle to catch your breath. Check and replace the filters in your heating system before you crank up the heater for the winter.
- Warm up before exercise. Some asthma attacks occur from inhaling the cold, winter air. Try to exercise indoors if it’s too cold outside. If you are going to work out outside, it is important to warm up before heading outdoors to increase your lung function.
- Know your treatment plan. Consult with your doctor to ensure you have an effective treatment plan in place year round. Being in control of your asthma is important but especially during the Spring and Winter when asthma attacks are more likely to occur.
Physicians and HME Providers Team Up to Offer Asthma Relief
Physicians look to help their patients keep asthma symptoms under control but they know that the cold, dry winter air and exposure to extremely cold air can cause a flare-up of asthma symptoms. It is important that they are prepared to offer medication as well as treatment such as with nebulizer when required.
As more and more hospitals and physician offices continue to look for ways to care for their patients at home vs. in the hospital and look to reduce the cost of healthcare and their operating costs, there has been an increase in the number of HME providers providing them with service.
One way providers do this is by offering their Nebulizer Closet programs to these healthcare professionals.
These closet programs can be advantageous in many ways. Having inventory in their facility or practice will allow the clinicians to immediately provide their patients with the nebulizer and do the training needed to maximize compliance and efficacy.
Another benefit, that you as the HME provider can offer, is handling of all the required paperwork for insurance filing. Hospitals and physician offices are inundated with paperwork as HME’s are accustomed to as well so being able to be a solution for that can be a value add to this type of customer.
It is also important that you position yourselves as product experts. While the clinicians know what these products are for, they may not be up to date on what products are available and their benefits.
For example, a pediatric hospital recently began using Graham-Field’s Neb-u-Tyke Neb-a-Doodle because they were intrigued by its uniqueness. With its design of having a drawing board that could keep a child entertained, the facility felt it could help with compliance and make their patients feel more at ease during treatment.
As providers continue to look for ways to diversify their business and hospitals look for ways to minimize costs and keep patient care at home and out of the hospitals, we will continue to see more opportunities for providers and healthcare professionals to partner together and provide quality care for the patient. Graham-Field is here to support you with each patient, one treatment at a time.
Cynthia Counts is Vice President of Product Management & Homecare SBU at Graham-Field.
About GF Health Products, Inc.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with more than 300 US-based employees, GF Health Products, Inc. is a major manufacturer of healthcare products for the acute care, extended care, homecare and primary care markets. The Graham-Field family of brands includes Basic American Medical Products, Everest & Jennings, Grafco, Hausted, John Bunn, Labtron, Lumex and Lumiscope. Visit www.grahamfield.com or call 770-368-4700.