Understanding Asthma Audiobook
Jenny learns more about her asthma diagnosis, what can trigger an asthma attack and how to prevent it from happening, in this audiobook version of our award-winning comic book Understanding Asthma.
Rebecca: Hi there and welcome to a special audiobook installment of Jumo’s In My Words podcast series.
At Jumo, we produce everything from comic books that explain difficult medical conditions, to videos where families share practical insight and their stories of hope. Learning how to manage life after a diagnosis can be stressful and confusing, and we aim to make that a little easier.
Ok, let’s get started. Today’s story comes from our Understanding Asthma comic book. Listen in as Jenny joins the Medikidz superheroes on a journey through the human body.
Jenny: When I tell my mother I’m afraid to go to sleep in case I have an asthma attack, she gives me a hug and an encouraging speech.
But when I tell my friends about my fears…they take me into outer space!
What else do you expect when your friends are the Medikidz!
Thanks for offering to teach me all about my asthma, guys!
Flying around in these sweet space suits is definitely a new level of awesome, but I’ve got to ask...do we really have to go in there?!
Chi: Asthma affects the airways of your lungs. The biggest airway we have is accessed through the mouth, soooooo---yup!
Jenny: Oh, I guess I should mention the Medikidz aren’t just taking me to space, I am going to Mediland! A planet that looks and works just like the human body.
Narrator: Inside Mediland’s mouth…
Jenny: And [gulp] are we really going down there?
Gastro: Yes we are! This way leads us to the airways, which are the tubes that carry air into your lungs and back out again.
Narrator: In the trachea…
Skindy: The airways start off big! We’re in the biggest one now! It’s called the trachea, also known as your windpipe.
Gastro: You’ll notice that the trachea branches off into smaller tubes.
Skindy: Whoa, there are tons of them!
Axon: Indeed! Proceed this way, please.
Pump: What’s cool about the airways is that they are surrounded by muscles that help them keep their shape.
Abacus: Without the muscles, your lungs would deflate like a balloon does when you let the air out.
Alert! Alert! Incoming!
Jenny: Huh, I don’t see anything?
Gastro: No, he’s right! I can hear it, it sounds like---
Oh no! Take cover!
Narrator: In a lung…
Jenny: What’s going on?
Chi: Well, sometimes the air you breathe in contains dust, dirt, and other particles. This would be one of those times!
Pump: As you can imagine, this can damage the lungs, but luckily they’re pretty good at keeping themselves clean and healthy.
Jenny: Phew, I’m glad that’s over! Now, what were you saying about—Eww! What is this?!
Axon: That sticky substance is called mucus. Your lungs produce mucus to trap the dust and dirt so that it gets coughed up and out of the lungs. It’s fascinating.
Jenny: Yeah, well, fascinating is leaking into my suit!
Germ 1: I’m thinking about putting an infection riiiiighhttt here. What do you think?
Oh, I think that’d look perfect there! Maybe get a nice fever going so we stay warm.
Germ 2: Oh, I think that’d look perfect there! Maybe get a nice fever going so we stay
Jenny: Who are those guys?
Chi: Sometimes you also breathe in germs!
Pump: If germs get into your lungs, they can cause infections that make you ill.
Jenny: Then we have to stop them!
Pump: Whoa, hold on there Jenny. Your body has this problem covered.
Germ 2: Umm, you may want to turn around.
Germ 1: Quiet, I’m trying to plan an infection.
Pump: Jenny, meet the immune system. This army of natural defenders is made up of lots of cells.
They work together to fight off germs.
Immune System: These lungs aren’t big enough for the both of us!
Germ 2: Well, what if I stayed and you guys left? Ow! Okay we’re going, we’re going!
Jenny: The immune system is awesome!
Skindy: It is, but in asthma the immune system gets confused.
Immune System: Hmm, you know what this looks like to me? It looks like a…germ! We’re being invaded! Atttaaaccckkk!
Jenny: What’s happening?
Skindy: Cue the confusion! The immune system starts attacking where there are no germs.
Axon: The immune system begins seeing other things as the enemy, things like house dust mites, pollen, mildew, tobacco smoke, cold air, and chemicals!
Abacus: They can also see animal hair and fur as enemies…
Which is why a robot is the perfect pet.
All of these things are called triggers.
Pump: In asthma, when you breathe in one of these triggers, your airways overreact.
This causes damage called inflammation, which makes your airways swell and become red.
Gastro: It also makes the muscles around the airways squeeze really tight. This is called bronchoconstriction, which means the airways become narrower, making breathing difficult.
Chi: The lungs make too much mucus, which also makes it harder to breathe, and causes you to cough.
All of these things can make your chest feel tight.
Jenny: Argh, what is that noise?
Skindy: If your airways are narrow, the air that travels through them makes a noise called wheezing.
The wheezing is, of course, much louder when you’re actually in the lungs!
Coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness are called asthma symptoms.
Gastro: Not everyone with asthma is affected by the same triggers.
Exercise, cold air, and stress are triggers that can also make your asthma worse because they make your lungs work harder than normal.
Abacus: There are treatments that can help keep your asthma under control.
Jenny: Treatments! Yes, let’s do those before I get mistaken for a germ and zapped.
Axon: There are two main types of asthma medicines, relievers and controllers.
Both come as inhalers.
Pump: Let’s treat, Medikidz!
Gastro: Relievers like bronchodilators are muscle relaxers that work straight away so you can breathe easier quickly!
Abacus: Broncho equals airway, Dilator equals make bigger, so bronchodilator make airway bigger.
Jenny: So that’s what relievers do, what about controllers?
Pump: There are different types of controller inhalers, but they all reduce inflammation in the airways.
Axon: These inhalers don’t work straight away so you might not notice any difference when you first take them.
So that controllers can help prevent asthma attacks, they need to be taken every day.
Abacus: Sometimes kids with asthma need other treatments, such as tablets. Your doctor will help you work out what’s best for you.
Pump: We’ve stopped this asthma attack, let’s head out!
Jenny: You don’t have to tell me twice!
Narrator: Back in the trachea…
Chi: Medicine is great, but it’s also important to know your asthma triggers so you can avoid them.
Jenny: Sounds like I’d have to live in a bubble! What happens if I can’t avoid some?
Chi: It’s impossible to avoid all triggers, but your asthma team will help you work out ways to manage them.
Narrator: In the mouth…
Pump: Keeping fit and being a healthy weight can help to control your asthma. Exercise can be a trigger for asthma too. You might have to take your reliever inhaler before you exercise.
Gastro: It’s really important not to smoke. Smoking causes a lot of health problems and is really bad for your lungs.
Skindy: The key to preventing asthma attacks is staying healthy and taking the right treatments.
Come on, let’s get back to HQ!
Narrator: Inside Medikidz satellite headquarters…
Jenny: Okay, so all of this is awesome, but what happens if I’m taking my medicine, avoiding triggers, being healthy, and I still have an asthma attack?
Chi: You’re right, asthma attacks can still happen even if you’re doing everything right. That’s why it’s important that you, your family, teachers, and friends know what to do!
Pump: And this is why you’ll need an asthma action plan, so you and everyone else know what to do. Your asthma team will help you come up with an action plan.
Jenny: I’m glad I know more about my asthma and how to treat it, but it’s still rough having to worry about it all the time.
Skindy: Living with asthma can be tough, and also frustrating when you feel different from your friends.
Remember, asthma is just something that happens. It’s not your fault, nor anyone else’s fault.
Chi: If you’re ever feeling worried, talking to someone can really help.
Skindy: Totally! Your family, friends, teachers, and your asthma team, are there to support you every step of the way!
Pump: Remember to take your inhalers just as your doctor says, do regular exercise and avoid triggers as best you can!
Chi: And with your asthma under control, you can get on with doing all the things you love to do.
Jenny: Thanks Medikidz!
Now that I understand what’s going on, I don’t feel so worried. Tomorrow I’m going to talk to my friends about my asthma, but now…I’m ready for a goodnight’s sleep!
Rebecca: Thanks for listening! We'll be adding new episodes all the time. We also take requests, so if you have a great topic, let us know! Who knows, we may even interview you! Visit us at JumoHealth.com.
In My Words is produced in New York City and distributed worldwide.
In My Words - A Jumo production.