While talking with Heather on the phone, I hear Ty running around the room, calling to his mother, and basically sounding like a typical little boy. This is great to hear, and I wonder how Heather and Ty work together to help him live this active childhood. Although Ty is only three and a half, asthma has been a problem since his first year. His asthma became apparent as he started playing more. “I noticed he would have trouble breathing and would cough,” says Heather. Today Ty’s asthma is as controlled as possible, according to Heather. One of his bigger challenges is the congestion each morning caused by his asthma. But he has successes, too. Success to Heather is the fact that her son can play and run around — inside and outside.

Heather gladly reports, “Before medications, Ty would run around the table once and start coughing. Now, it takes a lot more activity for him to start coughing, if he does.” Heather and Ty work as a team to manage his asthma. He uses a medicine called Advair twice a day plus other longer- lasting medicines to help prevent attacks. He also uses inhalers to help treat attacks when they happen. Ty also has his Asthma Toolkit. Toolkits are available at local clinics across eastern Colorado, including the clinics in Akron, Brush, Fort Morgan, and Sterling. Toolkits include a peak flow meter to help monitor breathing daily. Given Ty’s young age, he wasn’t quite ready to use the peak flow meter. Until he is a little older, he and Heather use a different trick that uses the same concept as the peak flow meter. Ty blows a cotton ball across the table.

According to Heather, “I can really tell a difference on days when Ty’s breathing is more labored. It’s worth it to do this every day.” Her favorite part of the Toolkits is the Asthma Action Plan. This form is filled out by the patient and provider and outlines steps to take when Ty has an attack. “This is the best part,” declares Heather, “especially when someone else is taking care of Ty.” Ty also avoids his triggers as much as possible, which include weeds, dust, aerosol sprays and perfumes. Heather doesn’t clean the house when he is nearby or keeps the room well-ventilated. Heather and Ty know how to work together as a team. If you would like more information about asthma, talk to your local health care provider about the free Asthma Toolkits program. Most clinics in eastern Colorado have the program, which was developed by National Jewish Health and the High Plains Research Network. Materials are available in English and Spanish.