Sunday, May 27, 2001

Catching Up

Asthma educator now speaks from experience

font face=arial size=2>By Peggy O'Farrell

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        After years of preaching, Donald C. Vogel is a happy convert.

        When we checked in with Mr. Vogel last year, he had just learned he had asthma. He was 59, and, as the vice president of financial management for the American Lung Association, a little chagrined to learn he had developed the disease he had spent more than 35 years educating other people.

        But no more: Mr. Vogel reports he has the disease under control, and when he warns others of asthma's dangers, he speaks with the voice of experience.

        “The key is, listen to what your doctor has to say, take your medicine on time and seek the indoors when the pollutants outside are elevated,” says the Anderson Township man.

        Mr. Vogel is following his own advice, and it shows.

        “I couldn't be any happier,” he says.

        Sticking to the medications schedule and staying indoors when humidity and ozone levels are high has made a big difference, Mr. Vogel says. “My breathing is much better than what it was.”

        This spring and summer, Mr. Vogel and his colleagues are touting the construction of Cincinnati's first Health House. The American Lung Association works with contractors and homeowners nationwide to construct homes that meet stringent indoor air quality standards. Radon, mold, basement moisture, backdrafting, furnace filters and indoor dust are all concerns addressed by the Health House program.

        Stenger-Coffman Homes is building the Health House home in Western Hills.

        Mold, dust and allergens all contribute to asthma, Mr. Vogel says, and indoor air quality is important for everyone, whether they have asthma or not.

        Mr. Vogel says he feels good about being in control of his asthma through medicine and preventive measures: Some days, he wears a mask if he's going to be doing yard work.

        “It feels good to take a good deep breath of air and not cough my lungs out,” he says. “And I can tell when the ambient air quality outside is not right, because there's something that triggers coughing and shortness of breath.”

        Researchers are still trying to find out why so many more people are developing asthma in adulthood. Environmental factors, including air pollution, are believed to be at least partially responsible for the increase.

        Mr. Vogel says he's living proof that adults need to be aware they can develop asthma. “I'm feeling like a new person,” he says. “I now recognize what I have been telling people all my life: When you have a sharp hacking cough or excess sputum or shortness of breath, it's time to get yourself checked.”


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