| Jr. Feature |

Hidden Heroes: Part 2 of 6 — Asthma   

There is no cure for asthma; it is treated by preventing the attacks, or at least keeping them under control with medications

What is asthma?

During an asthma attack, the airways swell up and fill with mucous. That makes it very hard for air to get in, which causes difficulty breathing. Wheezing is a sound that asthmatics commonly make when they are struggling for air.

There is no cure for asthma; it is treated by preventing the attacks, or at least keeping them under control with medications that help widen the airways, allowing more air to enter. These meds are inhaled, which means breathed in, through a small, non-electronic device called an inhaler, or through a mask and a larger, electric device called a nebulizer. Sometimes, other oral (taken by mouth) medications are also used.


Meet the Heroes


is a fun-loving, sports-loving girl with a great sense of humor. She is the youngest of five children. She hates studying history and hates washing dishes!



is the older sister of two girls. She is also the bearer of a unique, adorable nickname: her friends in real life do actually call her Zaza, she didn’t make that up for the Jr! Zaza loves to read, write, and draw.


When did you find out you had asthma? How did you find out?

Ayelet: I’m a very active girl — I love sports, and I’m always running, jumping, or playing basketball. In sixth grade, I started noticing that my chest got tight when I ran a lot, and I’d cough. One day, we were doing a running exercise at school when my gym teacher said, “I think you have asthma.”

My mother took me to the doctor. He told me to run around the parking lot, and then he listened to my chest. The doctor said that I have exercise-induced asthma and gave me an inhaler to use. I had to use the inhaler 20 minutes before every gym class and any time I exercised.

I am very dependent on my inhaler, but I am a sport-addict, and I wouldn’t let that stop me from playing basketball! I lived in a city which is like the Allergy Capital. My asthma got worse during certain seasons, so I need to use my nebulizer several times a day. At certain times of the year, I can’t step outside without having an asthma attack.

Zaza: Ever since I was a baby, I had issues breathing whenever I got sick. When I was in seventh grade, I had to use inhalers every single day just to breathe normally. My doctor said that I have asthma and gave me more medications.

What is the hardest part about having asthma?

Ayelet: I don’t let it phase me, but I do occasionally miss out on certain activities.

Zaza: I need to have a nebulizer treatment twice a day, which takes 20 minutes… which means I need to wake up 20 minutes earlier every day. And a few months ago, my asthma got really bad; I wasn’t responding to my inhalers. I needed a nebulizer treatment every four hours, even during the night. It wasn’t fun.


The best part?

Ayelet: A good friend of mine also had asthma, and we’d make code-names for our inhalers: “Do you have your skoodadoole with you? I left my skoodadoole at home…”

Zaza: Sometimes I use my asthma as an excuse to miss school. And my adorable little purple inhaler is so cute and small and pretty. My nebulizer’s name is Nilia, I named her myself…


Any stories?

Ayelet: When I was in Camp Sternberg (shout-out!), they offered a 27-mile-hike. Most of the girls weren’t interested; you had to carry everything you needed with you on your back, sleep on the ground, etc. but even those who were interested couldn’t all go. They selected a few by raffle.  I was picked, but that same day, I had an asthma attack and I was in the infirmary. “She can’t go, she’s asthmatic,” they said, and they threw my name out and picked someone else. I was really upset to miss that dream hike.

Zaza: When I went on my school Shabbos last year, the Shabbos clock for my nebulizer crashed! It was really not funny to live through that Shabbos. Although looking back, it was a crazy, funny Shabbos.


Does having asthma affect your day-to-day life? How?

Ayelet: I thrive on sports, totally love it, and I can’t always participate when I want to. Other than that, it doesn’t affect my day-to-day life at all, besides for carrying my inhaler with me and using it when I need to.

Zaza: When I climb stairs or run, I get short of breath. That’s annoying. And waking up early to use the nebulizer…

Any tips for other kids with asthma?

Ayelet: Don’t keep it a secret. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. You can use your inhaler in front of other people, get on with life and enjoy it.

Zaza: It makes life more fun to name your nebulizers and inhalers. Give them personality!


Is there something you wish everyone knew about asthma?

Ayelet: Wheezing and coughing is a normal part of having asthma; we do not need Covid tests every few days! Don’t kick asthmatics out of school or shul when they’re having their usual barky cough, chronic cough, or wheezing.

Zaza: It’s not really that scary. Well, when I can’t breathe, it’s scary, but most of the time it’s just a background part of my life. It’s not a crazy thing if I need to use my inhaler, I can just get on with my day.


Is there something you want to remember for yourself, something that makes having asthma easier to live with?

Ayelet: Live each day as it comes, do what you have to do, and don’t make it more overwhelming than it actually is! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking everyone else has a perfect life and you don’t. Don’t let asthma define who you are — it’s not you, it’s just something you have to deal with.

Zaza: To be grateful for my medications. Even though there’s no cure for asthma, my meds keep it under control and help me breath. I’m working on an essay for school now about the early 1930s. If I had been born then, well, I probably wouldn’t be alive at all. I’m grateful that there’s so much available today to help me.


8.4 percent of children under 18 in the USA have asthma.

Asthma attacks can be triggered by many things, including pollution, dust, smoke, mold, pets, and other triggers.

The word “asthma” comes from the Greek word aazein, meaning panting.


Meet our Next Heroes in issue 891


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 889)

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