FIFE, Wash. -- Pierce County health officials are trying to tackle a growing asthma problem. Nearly 14,000 children in the county have asthma and the number keeps rising.
“It is serious. I think we have great medication, maybe gives a false sense of security. Asthma can still result in death. One death is one too many,” said Judy Olsen, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s asthma specialist
Olsen and other specialists with the health department make about 150 home visits each year. They inspect and show families what's inside their home that triggers asthma attacks and allergies.
Collin Thornburgh’s family discovered he had asthma when he went to the emergency room after an asthma attack when he was 2-years-old.
Resources to combat asthma and allergies
“He sounds like an old smoker, as weird as that is to say,” said Tara Thornburgh. “He sounds just like an old man, wheezing, coughing. When it’s really bad, he can’t finish he’s sentences and that’s when it’s really scary.”
Common triggers include pet dander, aerosol, household cleaning supplies, candles and fragrances. Mold around windows is also a big problem. Olsen recommends wiping and opening up your blinds and windows everyday to let in fresh air.
Dust mites are also a major trigger.
"When I say wash your bedding in hot water, I mean everything. Blankets, pillow covers, the sheets, at least once a week,” said Olsen
Health care providers can refer patients to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department for an asthma home visit or families can contact the department to set up a visit.