CONTACT: BECKY SOGLIN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 335-8034
Release: July 12, 2000
UI offers free asthma screenings at Johnson County Fair
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Children and adults who are out of shape, unable to keep
up with peers or who have breathing problems such as coughing, wheezing and
shortness of breath can find out if asthma is the cause by taking a screening
test July 24 through 26 at the Johnson County Fair. The free asthma screenings
will be offered from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and are sponsored by the Division
of Allergy and Immunology in the University of Iowa department of internal
medicine in conjunction with the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
The screenings are part of a nationwide asthma screening program to increase
awareness in the area about asthma and allergies, said Iftikhar Hussain, M.D.,
UI assistant professor (clinical) of internal medicine, who is spearheading
"Asthma incidence and prevalence is on the rise in the Western world,
and there is less awareness of the disease in the Midwest," Hussain said.
"Early detection and treatment of asthma can significantly change the
life of patients, their families and their productivity in the community."
At the screenings, adults can take a 20-question "Life Quality Test"
developed by the ACAAI. "The Kids' Asthma Check" will allow children
ages 8 to 14 to answer questions themselves about their breathing problems.
Parents of children age 7 and younger can complete a version of the "check"
for their child. In addition, each participant can take a lung function test
that involves blowing air into a tube. Using the symptom questionnaire and
lung test results, a UI asthma specialist will advise whether participants
should seek a thorough examination and diagnosis.
Children who want to be screened should be accompanied by a parent. The entire
screening takes 15 to 20 minutes. The fairgrounds are located on Riverside
Drive, south of the Iowa City Municipal Airport.
Hussain will be present during the screenings along with other UI faculty
members, fellows, clinic nurses and a physician assistant. Participants whose
screening test shows they may need further asthma assessment or treatment
can receive referrals to the UI Division of Allergy and Immunology, which
specializes in long-term care for patients with asthma.
Hussain noted that young athletes sometimes reduce their activity level because
they get out of breath. "They do not realize that this can be due to
asthma and that with proper and timely treatment, they can be professional
athletes," he said.
He added that people who are out of shape may have "silent" asthma,
which limits them to a minimal amount of exercise to keep off extra weight.
The ACAAI started the asthma-screening program a few years ago because the
prevalence of asthma and allergy-related illness in the United States is increasing.
More than 25 percent of the population has allergic diseases, the leading
cause of asthma, and nearly 5 percent, or 17 million, have asthma. Asthma
is expected to be an even greater problem in the future because its incidence
has increased by 75 percent between 1980 and 1994.
The local screening event is the first time the UI has participated in the
ACAAI nationwide effort to screen people for asthma. Now in its fourth year,
the national program has screened more than 20,000 people who thought they
might be at risk for asthma. Nearly half of those participants were referred
for more extensive diagnosis. The program is funded by an educational grant
The exact cause of asthma is a little unclear, Hussain said, but studies
have shown that allergies play a significant role in the condition by inducing
chronic airway inflammation, which causes people to cough, feel winded or
"Our goal is to get to asthma before it causes irreversible damage to
the lungs," Hussain said.
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the
UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care,
medical education and research programs and services they provide.