Friday, June 19, 2009
Medical Reports: Helium for Asthma Attacks
Have you ever sucked the air out of helium balloon and it makes your voice go really high? Well, as it turns out, for some patients with asthma, that sort of thing is helping them breathe easier. Seven's Christine Cruz has more in tonight's Healthcast.
WSVN -- It's been a rough start for Emery. Trouble breathing stressed his heart. Now, doctors are using helium to help.
Dr. James Swift: "It should, in theory, make his oxygen concentration go up in his bloodstream."
When doctors coat the airways with a mixture of helium and oxygen, it creates a smooth pathway for the air to travel.
Air flows through lungs like water in a stream. Rocks cause turbulence, those rocks are like mucus in your lungs blocking air flow.
Dr. James Swift: "That helium layers out and allows the oxygen and the CO2 to get in and out of the airways in a much more efficient manner."
Asthma attacks sent 13-year-old Zach Hibbert to the emergency room several times.
Zach Hibbert: "I like playing with the dogs a lot, and I'd just start not breathing."
Alfredo Hibbert: "Looking at him, he looked a little blue around the lips, and I knew there was a problem."
During his last attack, Zach was put on helium for a few days. His breathing returned to normal, and he's been good to go ever since.
Christine Cruz: "Dr. Swift says the worst cases of asthma occur in kids five to 18, and if not treated, some cases can lead to heart failure."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Sunrise Children's Hospital
Las Vegas, NV