by Madisen Sebastian & Madison Ralston; Farnsley Middle School (Louisville, KY)

Our siblings Paige and Alex, ages 19 and age 15, respectively, both have asthma. They both ran cross-country during their middle and high school years, although running was a difficult task for them. Asthma affects the way they breathe and as they run it gets harder and harder to breathe.  It even causes them to have asthma attacks.

Someone with asthma should carry a bronchodilator. Credit: James Heilman via

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2014 there were 18.7 million recorded people with asthma. 6.8 million of these were children. There were also 1.3 million hospital visits and 3,630 deaths.

Paige was diagnosed at age 10 and Alex at age 9. They both agreed that their early life would have been easier if they had been diagnosed earlier. Alex says that his life would be easier without asthma by not having to worry about the side effects, like wheezing and coughing.

“It feels like it runs my life, by preventing me from being as active as I want to,” claims Paige.  

They both said that having asthma is difficult to deal with and that it makes them feel set apart from other kids who don’t deal with asthma. It affects your quality of life because you have to stop doing physical activity when you feel like you can’t go any further.

One time, during a cross-country race, Paige was running and suddenly stopped to catch her breath because she was having trouble breathing. The course escorts had to pick her up and take her to the medical center, where she passed out. They had to lay wet rags over her face and fan her to wake her up. Soon after she awakened they transported her to the hospital.

Asthma also has an impact on our lives as siblings as well. We always wonder if they are going to be okay. It’s hard to see them struggle and not be able to do anything about it. Paige said,

“We had to learn how to control it, like when to take your medicine, knowing what triggers it, and knowing when to stop,” says Paige.

Asthma is a deadly respiratory condition marked by spasms making it difficult to breathe. Asthma is not a contagious disease or a disease at all, but it is a commonly found condition in young kids.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “symptoms can range from minor to severe and vary from person to person.” Some of the signs of asthma are shortness of breath, chest tightness or pain, trouble sleeping, coughing or wheezing attacks, and the need to use a quick-relief inhaler. Severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening.

There are multiple types of asthma, including exercise-induced, occupational, and allergy-induced. Exercise-induced asthma is asthma that is triggered by prolonged exercise. Most people with chronic asthma experience these symptoms of asthma during exercising. Occupational asthma is asthma that is triggered by workplace irritants. like chemical fumes, gases, or dust. Allergy-induced asthma is asthma that is triggered by particular allergens, such as pet dander, cockroaches, or pollen.

 Asthma medications can save your life and let you live an active life in spite of your asthma,” states WebMD.

There are two different drugs that are used in the treatment of asthma. Anti-inflammatory drugs, particularly inhaled steroids, are the most important treatment for most people with asthma. Anti-inflammatory drugs are a type of pain reliever, they reduce inflammation. The inhaled steroids are prescribed as a long-term control medicine. They are taken to decrease mucus production. 

Bronchodilators help relieve the symptoms and relax the muscles that tighten around your airways and allows them to open back up. Bronchodilator inhalers are used to relieve the cough, wheeze, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. This type of inhaler is often referred to as a rescue inhaler. Paige and Alex have prescribed inhalers that they should have on them at all times.

Related story: Asthma and Air Pollution

According to, “inside your lungs are branching tubes called airways. With asthma, the airways are often swollen and red (or inflamed).” When your airways are inflamed, you are more sensitive to things in the environment like pollen. Extra mucus can be produced and make breathing even more difficult. This process is what causes asthma attacks and can be very dangerous for anyone.

 We conducted a survey with 55 8th grade students at Farnsley Middle School and found that out that of the 55 students we surveyed, 22, or 40%, had asthma; and 58% of these students have a family member with asthma causing it to have an impact on their life. Madisen Sebastian & Madison Ralston

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