On average, it costs $422 for Maria's treatment
- Impact on patient's life
- Cultural or regional significance
What kinds of symptoms do patients experience before receiving treatment?
Without treatment, severe asthma can lead to chronic chest pain, wheezing, and shortness of breath. These symptoms limit a patient's physical activity and ability to attend school.
In the most severe cases, an asthma attack can be life-threatening if it obstructs airflow through the lungs.
What is the impact on patients’ lives of living with these conditions?
In severe cases, this condition is life-threatening. In moderate cases, it causes chronic pain and shortness of breath. It can also be socially isolating for children, as they cannot participate in physical activities.
What cultural or regional factors affect the treatment of these conditions?
Asthma is less common in Guatemala than in the United States. The hygiene hypothesis postulates that children who are exposed early to many pathogens are less likely to be “allergic.” In the United States, where there is little such exposure, the rates of asthma, dermatitis, and other “allergic conditions” are on the rise.
- Impact on patient's life
- Risks and side-effects
What does the treatment process look like?
Once the patient is brought to Wuqu' Kawoq (WK) with severe asthma, the staff works to obtain the necessary supplies and establish a treatment plan to stabilize the patient's condition and get his or her lung function back on track. WK educates the family and patient and provides emergency supplies for use in the home. WK works intensively with the patient for one month to standardize and optimize his or her daily asthma medications. By this time, the patient is usually symptom-free or nearly symptom-free. After this intensive treatment, funded by Watsi, WK provides ongoing periodic checkups.
What is the impact of this treatment on the patient’s life?
This treatment saves lives and stabilizes families. Controlling asthma prevents life-threatening respiratory attacks. It also helps the family to develop a reasonable and effective treatment plan. Without this treatment package, parents spend a lot of time and money looking for effective treatments. Asthma control allows children to perform better in school and engage in physical activity.
What potential side effects or risks come with this treatment?
Asthma is very treatable. Although asthma is not “cured,” it can be effectively controlled with simple, standardized medical techniques. For the majority of children, symptoms improve over time. In fact, many older children no longer require medications. Side effects are incredibly rare, but include yeast infections of the mouth and hoarseness.
How accessible is treatment in the area? What is the typical journey like for a patient to receive care?
For two reasons, this treatment is incredibly inaccessible in Guatemala. First, there is very limited expertise in asthma treatment. Second, many providers prescribe very expensive, branded medications that are no more effective than generic medications. This practice sets families up for financial ruin, because it makes them dependent on medications that they need but cannot afford. Wuqu' Kawoq sets families up with affordable treatment plans.
What are the alternatives to this treatment?
There are no real alternatives. Most hospitals and doctors who treat asthma in Guatemala only treat the “acute” episodes and attacks. They do not prescribe preventative treatments that control the disease and prevent future attacks.