Asthma in Children
Nationwide, 6 percent of the population suffer from asthma. The rates in West Oakland are much higher. One fifth of West Oakland's children suffer from asthma. Not only is asthma dangerous in the short term, it can also have long-term health effects, says nurse Mary Frazier, of the West Oakland Asthma Coalition.
A normal lung, when it gets right down to where the oxygen goes into the bloodstream and the carbon dioxide comes out, is just one cell thick, says Frazier. If you get asthma flares and frequent pneumonias, things that irritate the lungs over time, you actually get lung remodeling. The lung tissue itself begins to thicken. That can be reversed with good asthma treatment. But if it continues over time, you end up with chronic lung disease. And that leads to things like chronic pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, eventually emphysema.