Dr. Geoffrey Doughlin, president of the medical staff at Jamaica Hospital and a member of the emergency management department, said, "A strong wind actually blew straight into our neck of the woods in the days following the disaster, increasing the danger for Queens asthma patients. . . . We had more than sixty people come to the emergency room with asthma attacks in the two weeks following the disaster, most of them from Queens, some from lower Westchester where there were terrible problems."Doughlin
said that most patients had "severe trouble breathing" and needed immediate medical attention."Inhalers weren't doing it," Doughlin
Although all of the patients seen at Jamaica Hospital
were treated and released without any problems, Doughlin
said the likelihood of further asthma attacks is high in people who experienced problems in the weeks following the disaster.
"People who had problems after Sept. 11 will probably become more sensitized to asthmatic triggers afterwards.Those people will probably have attacks or breathing problems more frequently than normal, but as long as they carry their inhalers, they'll be alright."
Doughlin reports that the number of people complaining of respiratory problems or asthma attacks has leveled off since mid-October, agreeing with Department of Environmental Protection statistics that show a steep decline in foreign particles in the air."There is nothing in the air now," Doughlin
said."People with asthma are safe, except for repeat reactions.Still, they should always carry they're inhalers and take they're medication.It's important now because you really never know."
Asthma occurs when the air passages in a person's lungs become irritated by a small allergic reaction to foreign particles.The passages become swollen, causing secretions in the lung that block air passages.