Health panel urges asthma control
Asthma controlled Liz Sandhagen's life for about 20 years.
It put her in the hospital for at least a week 30 times. When her future husband gave her flowers and perfume for Christmas, she got rid of the flowers and returned the perfume -- both triggers for her illness.
"I'd get to the point where my sinuses were so swollen I couldn't see," she said. "My husband and I couldn't take trips. You can't get into a plane if you're sitting next to somebody wearing perfume."
Sandhagen, 46, of Whitehall discussed her condition on Wednesday at the Priory in the North Side as part of an asthma summit sponsored by Allegheny General Hospital and The Breathe Project, a coalition that is trying to clean the air in the region. The project estimates that 51,000 children in Southwestern Pennsylvania have asthma.
"Asthma kills people. It lands people in hospitals and emergency rooms because it's hard to breathe," said Dr. David Skoner, division director of allergy, asthma and immunology at West Penn Allegheny Health System.
The summit during World Asthma Month highlights a chronic, incurable disease that results in 456,000 hospitalizations and 3,447 deaths a year.
Skoner said he helped organize the conference after 100 local pharmacists told him how poorly their patients controlled their asthma.
Skoner said pollution, tobacco smoke, allergens and viruses can trigger asthma attacks. Dr. Deborah Gentile's research found that tobacco smoke, obesity and vitamin D deficiency increase the risk for asthma. She is director of research in the division of allergy, asthma and immunology at Allegheny General.
"About 30 percent of infants are exposed to tobacco smoke before they're born," she said. "It makes them two to three times at greater risk of developing asthma."
Surveys between 2008 and 2010 show 10 percent of adults in Pennsylvania and 9 percent in Allegheny County had asthma in the previous 12 months, said Dr. Vadim Drobin, an asthma control program epidemiologist for the state Department of Health.
Sandhagen developed asthma when she was in her 20s. She eventually found a medication, Xolair, that controls her illness.
"I really didn't think it was possible to go from the point where I was afraid to leave the house half the time," she said. "I'm like normal people."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fissures begin to emerge among Dems
- Western Pa. business owners urge shoppers to think small
- Liberal Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg has stent placed in heart artery
- Pregnant woman struck by van in North Side dies; doctors save baby
- Free speech can be shield or a sword, as Cosby furor shows
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger says Saints game is ‘must win’
- Food for thought
- Steelers cornerback Taylor ready to swap earpiece for helmet
- Animal abuse
- Steelers’ backups ready to run
- Snow expected to taper off in Pittsburgh by mid-afternoon