Cróna pictured on the far left with her asthma ambassador students at Kilkerley National School PIC: ARTHUR KINAHAN
Cróna Tansey, a 26-year-old teacher in Kilkerley National School has become an ambassador for Asthma Ireland.
Ms Tansey, who herself suffered from asthma since she was a child, is now on a mission to help spread awareness for the disease which she says can often not be treated with the seriousness it deserves.
The junior infant’s teacher at Kilkerley National School now leads a group of students who are 'asthma ambassadors' and helps to raise awareness of how Irish people can manage their asthma during the winter months as a spokesperson for COPD's 'Stay Well This Winter… Live Every Breath' campaign.
Cróna explains: “I learned that one in five children in Ireland have asthma. Through my research, I came across the Asthma Society of Ireland's school’s programme.
"This involves getting a group of children together who have asthma and working together to learn about the condition and how it is managed.
"It’s also a great opportunity for children who don’t have asthma to learn about the condition - as it is so common in Ireland, I think everyone knows someone who has it. We were presented with the Silver Asthma Friendly Schools Award last June and this year we will work towards achieving the Gold Award!”
Whilst Cróna now has her asthma under control now and can lead a normal life with no restrictions, it wasn't always that way.
The schoolteacher explains: “I have asthma for as long as I can remember, as a child I have so many memories of being awake in the night because I couldn't stop coughing.”
As Cróna reached her teenage years, she began to grow out of the condition and says it only flared up when she had a cold or chest infection. But by the time she got to college, it was back in full force.
Ms Tansey says: “The turning point was when I visited my sister in New York two years ago. I had a bad chest infection and we were walking in the cold to get the train and I had an asthma attack. My sister has a pharmacy degree and luckily she was there to talk me through it. It was one of the scariest experiences for both me and my family that were there.
“Since then I never leave the house without my inhaler. I was so lucky that day that I actually had it with me.”
Ms. Tansey concludes: “With the help of my GP I now have my asthma under control. This involved many doctors appointments and various trials of different preventer inhalers and making adjustments in my life such as taking my preventer inhaler everyday, making a conscious effort to avoid triggers like dust, cold air and fumes and preparing for winter by getting the flu vaccine and taking a multi-vitamin to try and fight off infection.”
Cróna's top tips for adults with asthma
1. Get the flu vaccine. It's important to stay warm and not to catch a cold during the winter months. Make sure you wrap up in a scarf and jacket and don't let the cold get to you.
2. I would also advise asthma sufferers to exercise indoors. I've had to adapt that way and it really helps.
3. I'd also advise people to check their inhalers regularly. You should have two different types. A preventer inhaler which you should be taking every day and then a reliever for when you have wheezing or are coughing during the day. Preventative medication is the key to keeping it under control.
Watch a video that Cróna made for the Asthma Society of Ireland below: