June 1, 2001

Bost receives award for asthma work

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Bost receives award for asthma work

For 11 years Gail Bost has been dealing with her son’s asthma. She has never really given much thought to the idea that she’s become a national advocate for children with asthma, since she’s been too busy teaching others about the illness.

Her son, Andy, was diagnosed with asthma when he was 2 years old. Since that time, Bost has helped develop numerous awareness and education programs on asthma, as well as led a group called “Parents of Children with Asthma.” The group is sponsored by the Asthma and Allergy Network, Mothers of Asthmatics and Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.

For several years Bost has worked to create a model program in schools for children with asthma. For most patients, learning how to avoid things that can trigger an asthma attack is as important as the medicines they take. It was for this reason that Bost implemented an education program in the school system.

The program, based in Williamson County, is now a pilot program for an allergy- and asthma-free school. In addition to training nurses and staff on asthma, Boast had nebulizers placed in all public schools throughout the county. Her educational efforts include teaching nurses on open airways, how to manage asthma, when children should take their medications and what the medications treat. She has also trained the rest of the school staff in “Asthma 101” so they can better understand the challenges faced by children with asthma. In addition to these efforts, she has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure clean air in schools.

Bost was recently recognized for her work by the national Allergy and Asthma Network, receiving a “Making a Difference” award in Washington, D.C. The national award recognizes a person who has made a significant impact in asthma awareness.

She hopes to continue piloting the program in smaller school systems and then move the program into larger areas like the Metro Nashville School System.

“Williamson County schools have been great,” she said. “I have not recreated the wheel. I’m using existing training programs, but most people don’t realize they exist.”

Asthma is a chronic lung condition. The cause is unknown and there is no cure. In most cases, it can be prevented or controlled. When you breathe, air moves in and out of your lungs through small tubes called bronchial tubes. These tubes are wrapped with narrow muscles and have tiny air sacs at the end of each tube that fill with air and enable your body to get the oxygen it needs.

During an asthma attack, doctors have identified three things that happen that can make it difficult for a person to breathe. A narrowing of the bronchial tubes can occur because the muscles around the tube tighten, or inflammation can cause swelling of the lining of the bronchial tubes. Finally, mucus can line the bronchial tube and obstruct the flow of oxygen. When any of these happen, a person will experience difficulty breathing because air can’t move freely through the tubes to the air sacs.