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Health        < Previous


Asthma Rap


Today's Snack: Cherries make a tremendously healthy snack. Learn how to take the "pit," or seed, out of each cherry, and discard the long stems as well. A handful of cherries is delicious on top of a piece of angel food cake with a blob of low-fat whipped topping, and a tall glass of milk.






Rhyming dictionaries | Regular dictionaries

Paper and pencils

Drum machine if available





Asthma is a serious and fairly common breathing problem. Every once in a while, a person with asthma can't get enough oxygen with every breath. It can lead to a panicky feeling that you are going to suffocate - which can be very scary.


Children who have asthma know that they shouldn't panic, and should just continue to breathe slowly, in a shallow manner, until their treatment help, such as an inhaler or nebulizer, can put their lungs back into balance.


A student with asthma hasn't done anything wrong. Asthma is just one of those conditions that some people get for no reason, and often because it runs in the family. A person with asthma may feel short of breath, or cough, or sometimes wheeze, which means they breathe with a sort of whistling sound.


Basically, the problem is that the airways of a person with asthma have more mucus than usual. Yes, mucus is the same stuff that makes boogers. Mucus is one of the funniest words in the English language, so you can laugh now!


Actually, mucus is really important for our bodies. It lines the pathways from our nose and mouth down into our lungs and into our digestive tract. The purpose of mucus is to protect those areas from infection and keep them lubricated, or slippery. Thanks to mucus, the air that comes into our lungs is as clean as possible.


But, because their airways have extra mucus, an asthmatic person's airways become easily irritated by all the tiny and invisible particles in the air we breathe. For example, you can barely see dust or smoke in the air. But when an asthmatic person breathes it in, dust or smoke can really irritate the airways.


Then those airways tend to tighten up and close in. That makes it harder and harder to get enough oxygen down into the lungs. Pretty soon, the asthmatic person feels short of breath, and it can be a really scary feeling.


Asthma attacks are the No. 1 reason kids miss a lot of school, which is not good. Asthma is also the most common reason kids have to be rushed to the emergency room for medical help.


But fortunately, advances in medications and treatments are making it easier and easier for kids with asthma to do everything they want to do, just like other kids. Medications, inhalers and nebulizers can put things right in the respiratory (RESS peer a tor ee) system so that the person can once again breathe easy.


The problem is, a lot of kids have a slight case of asthma and don't even know it. Do you? That's why it's so important to go to your doctor regularly, and tell him or her about times when you felt "short of breath" if you have felt that way. It's probably not asthma, but it's a great idea to talk it over with your medical professional and be sure.


So what can you do to help a family member, friend or perhaps yourself cope better with asthma?


The very best thing that an asthma sufferer's family and friends can do is to make their environment just as favorable as possible to quality breathing. The indoor air quality in your school, home and business can have a huge effect on how a child with asthma gets along.




  • Keep dust mites to a minimum in your house by using special mattress pads, box springs covers and pillow covers, washing linens often, keeping blankets in plastic bags when not in use, minimizing stuffed animals, and of course dusting and vacuuming your house often - at least once a week.


  • Don't have things in your house that collect dust. Avoid window blinds, knick-knacks, plants, curtains, upholstery, decorative pillows or picture frames.


  • When you dust, use a damp cloth rather than a dry cloth or feather duster; you want to remove as much dust as you can instead of just moving it around.


  • Don't use feather pillows or down products in your bedding; get synthetics, instead.


  • Reduce the impact of plant pollen, which can aggravate asthma as well as allergies, by choosing to plant plants that put out little or no pollen. Don't leave your windows open when the pollen is blowing around. Pollen counts are highest between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.


  • Don't run a humidifier in your home. Dust mites and mold grow better in a humid environment, so keep yours less humid.


  • Store your child's books and toys away from where he or she sleeps because they are dust magnets.


  • Don't let anybody smoke inside your home.


  • Don't have fires in your fireplace. The smoke in the air is hard to breathe.


  • Don't use perfumes or scented soaps or cosmetics.


  • Don't use aerosol sprays.


  • Use "green," organic, natural and often homemade cleaning products rather than harsh commercial products.


  • Fumes from fresh paint or cooking with gas can be hard on an asthmatic; can you paint the house when your asthma sufferer is away for several days, and do a lot of microwaving and cooking on the grill?


  • Don't use scented candles or room fresheners.


  • If fresh newsprint irritates your asthmatic, can you read it outside or away from home?


  • Run your air conditioner regularly. Change your air conditioning filter monthly.


  • In a home with forced-air heat, you could seal off the vents in an asthmatic child's bedroom with aluminum covers and tape.


  • Clean household air ducts and vents regularly, and change the air filter in your furnace regularly.


  • Don't have carpeting, especially where the asthmatic person spends a lot of time, and especially don't have wall-to-wall carpet in your basement, which often harbors mold. Also, wash area rugs weekly in hot water.


  • If the child has a favorite toy or stuffed animal that can't be washed in hot water and dried on "high" temperature, you can seal it in a plastic bag in the freezer for five hours or overnight; that should kill the dust mites.


  • Mold is an enemy to asthmatics. Mold sends spores into the air which, when inhaled, can trigger asthma. So keep your house mold-free by always fixing leaky pipes, faucets and roofs; use exhaust fans in bathrooms and the basement; keep closets clean and dry; run a dehumidifier in the basement and empty and clean out the water pan often. Make a "green" mold cleaner by mixing one part chlorine bleach to 10 parts water


  • Animals are frequently asthma triggers, because animal hair can collect mites, pollen and mold. It's best to not have a pet, or if you must, keep the pet outside as much as you can and out of your child's bedroom and playroom.


  • Cockroaches are really bad on asthma. So have your home professionally exterminated every few months, use bait traps, and don't save paper boxes, bags and newspapers for long. Don't leave open food containers or dirty dishes lying around, keep your counters clean, and wash recyclables before putting them in the recycling bin.



Now that you know so much more about asthma, let's write and perform an Asthma Rap!


Divide up into small groups. On your paper, write down words that have something to do with asthma:










Now use a rhyming dictionary, or your own brain, to list words that rhyme with those words. If you don't know a word's meaning, look it up in the regular dictionary so that you can use it in your rap if you want to:


Asthma - plasma, plaza

Lung - clung, dung, flung, hung, rung, sprung, strung, stung, sung, tongue, young, among, high-strung

Breathe - seethe, sheath, teeth, wreath, bequeath

. . . and so on.


Now write a rap of at least four lines about asthma, and present it to an audience - your family, other students, or whoever. If you have a drum machine with adjustable beats, that's a fun addition to the performance.






Adapted from "Creating an Asthma-Safe Home,"

from, The Nemours Center for Children's Health Media


There's a lot of great information about asthma for parents, kids and teens on that website:


By Susan Darst Williams Health 05 2010





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