April Meeting Recap: “Asthma! And Asthma.”

Saturday’s meeting of the Ladder was all about asthma – or as medical scholar Renee put it: “Asthma! And Asthma.” Punctuating asthma with both a “!” and “.” was to teach us about asthma not only as an acute condition which needs to be addressed immediately when it occurs (!!!!!), but also as a condition which medical folks can help you control and manage to reduce the !!!!! kinds of asthma incidents.

Asthma! And Asthma.

Asthma! And Asthma.

We learned that asthma describes an overreaction of the immune system where airways in the lungs (bronchioles) get inflammed, causing them to narrow and over-produce mucus (aka “lung snot!”) – making it really hard to breathe. Asthma can be caused by exposure over time to things that irritate the sensitive lining of the lungs, making them hypersensitive to what are called “triggers” such as pollen, pollution, cigarette smoke and pets, to name a few.

Here medical scholar Toporis demonstrates his understanding of the difference between healthy bronchioles and bronchioles that are inflammed and swollen:


Healthy vs. inflammed bronchioles

To help us all get a handle on normal lung function, medical scholar Andie provided balloons to demonstrate a simple but effective way of visualizing how much air the lungs can hold:

Measuring lung capacity

Measuring lung capacity

Showing how useful technology and computers are in giving medical professionals tools to help diagnose conditions like asthma, medical scholars Andie and Renard demonstrate the use of spirometry to measure lung capacity and flow of breathing:



We also learned about the sleuthing and knowledge that medical professionals use to figure out whether a patient who comes in for help with lung problems is experiencing asthma, some other condition (like pneumonia), or maybe even both at once:

Diagnosing asthma

Diagnosing asthma

Back to that notion of “Asthma! And Asthma,” we learned about types of medicines like rescue inhalers and Epipens that can be used to treat severe asthma when it happens (!!!!!), as well as asthma medications called controllers that are taken daily to keep inflammation down and airways open to keep severe asthma attacks from happening as often.

Can’t believe we can cram so much fun AND learning into just a couple of hours? See for yourself and join us for next month’s meeting of the Ladder – a Society of Medical Scholars ages 9 to 99. Meetings are the second Saturday of every month and open to anyone and everyone. You’ll have a lot of fun, get a free lunch, and probably even learn something in the process! The next meeting is May 10th at the UROC building (2001 Plymouth Ave N) in North Minneapolis.

“Lift as you Climb, Build as you Grow”


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