GREENVILLE, N.C (WNCT) – The first Tuesday of May is World Asthma Day, a day dedicated to educating people about the lifelong impacts of the disease.

At ECU Health, its Pediatric Asthma Program has served Eastern North Carolina for more than 25 years, working to decrease emergency department visits and increase the quality of life for children with asthma.

Asthma is a respiratory condition that makes it hard to breathe. Those with ECU Health said it can be set off by environmental triggers.

“It could be a bunch of different things. It could be like seasonal allergies, kin of the environment,” said ECU Health Pediatric Outpatient Clinic Nurse Manager Jeston Gurkins. “So recently, we had that forest fire, so that was a big one, we saw an influx of patients for that, it could be just the weather in general.”

Emily Wood is a parent of one of the many children ECU Health treats. She said her daughter, Madelyn, was diagnosed with asthma at age two after multiple hospital visits.

“She was my first child, brand new parent and I was really scared, and we didn’t really know what was going on at first, but then she was diagnosed with asthma,” Wood said.

After diagnosis, Wood said Madelyn received a visit from the pediatric asthma team.

“She came to my house and she educated me on asthma as a disease process, she educated me on the medication and the supplies that have to do with asthma,” Wood said.

The team educates patients and their families about the disease, treatments and care plans.

“We do education in the clinics, education in the hospitals, we go out and do education in the field, through home visits, virtual visits, school visits are really big for us,” said ECU Health Respiratory Care Manager Candace Cahoon. “Most of the time, we receive referrals either through ED visits or hospitalizations, however, we also receive referrals through PCPs, their primary care physicians. Our main goal is prevention.”

Those with ECU Health said asthma is a lifelong thing.

“Unfortunately, asthma isn’t always thought of as severe of a disease as it is. Asthma can kill, you really have to be conscious of the disease process, you have to understand it and what you need to do to keep yourself under control,” Cahoon said.

Now, Madelyn is 14.

“It makes me feel really good because now she’s 14 years old, so she’s not with me all the time, she’s away at school, she’s with friends, she knows how to handle her asthma should she have problems come up,” Wood said.

For those looking to reach the ECU Health Pediatric Asthma Team, you can contact the program by e-mailing or by calling (252) 847-6835.