What I Know, Assume, or Imagine “Well, Annie, it looks like you have asthma,” our family physician informed me. I could not believe what I was hearing. I thought that I had been suffering from a very stubborn cold. Questions started going through my head as I listened to Dr. Davis explain my condition. I’m in high school; I’m too old to get asthma now! How can I stay on the softball team? Will I be able to go on camping and hiking trips with my family? More than having an interest in my topic, I felt that it was a necessity to find out what I may have to live with for the rest of my life. I needed to understand how the condition would affect me.
I already knew that asthma is a chronic disease, which affects the lungs, and that certain medications help control the number and severity of asthma episodes, or times when the coughing and wheezing starts. I didn’t know much more than that. I needed to know more about what might trigger an asthma episode. Would I be able to keep up with other players on the softball team? Are there certain types of trees or plants that I should avoid? After much pleading and negotiating on my part, my parents had finally agreed that our family could have a dog. Would I be able to live with it? Can I, just a fourteen-year-old freshman in high school effectively manage my asthma?
The Story of My Search
I began my research by doing some background reading in the Encarta online encyclopedia. This provided a definition of the term asthma, information on how the lungs function, the causes of asthma attacks, and the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Statistics on the number of Americans with the disease were included in the article. Most of the information, including the statistics, was supported by the information in the Merck Manual of Medical Information. From there, I did an online search combining the terms asthma and managing in the Google search engine. Of the many sites that were available, I chose to use the American Lung Association’s web site. There the information on asthma was current, well organized, easy to understand, and it provided answers to many of the questions that I wanted answered.
During the next week I went to the school library. My school librarian directed me to the reference section where there were many medical encyclopedias. I chose to use the Merck Manual of Medical Information because it was the most current publication on the shelf. The vocabulary was much more technical and difficult to understand than what I found on the internet. Included in the article was a table that showed the different medications used to treat asthma and a graph that illustrated the correct use of an inhaler. Using the library’s OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog) to locate books on the subject, I did a search using the term asthma. My school library did not have any titles that dealt with asthma. I realized that I would have to go to a public library to find books.
At the public library, I used the OPAC with asthma as the search term in a subject search. Many of the titles shown in the catalog were checked out. I didn’t want to place any titles from the library on hold, so I checked out one of the two titles available on the shelf. The book, Breathe Right Now: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Treating the Most Common Breathing Disorders, was much longer than I had expected. Consequently, I read only some of the chapters.
According to the information in the Encarta encyclopedia, many Americans besides me have asthma, and that number has increased dramatically in the last 20 years with “more than 17 million Americans suffer from asthma with nearly 5 million cases occurring in children under age 18” (Abramowicz). The management of asthma is a health issue for many people besides me. As a result of my research, I have found that I can manage my asthma and live a full, active life by minimizing the effects of environmental factors that can trigger asthma episodes, following my doctor’s instructions about medications, and by sticking to an exercise program.
I also found out that numerous substances could trigger an asthma attack of coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Allergens constitute the largest category of triggers. Allergens are substances that produce an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to them. Common allergens are pollens from plants, animal dander, dust mites, mold and mildew (American Lung Association).
I decided to interview my doctor, Dr. Davis, because I had known him practically my whole life. He would also know a lot of information about what I needed to find out. I forgot to take his busy schedule into account, but he graciously agreed to meet with me after his office hours one day. Dr. Davis was a great source for information on all aspects of my disease, but the most unique part of our interview included a demonstration of two instruments: a peak flow meter and a metered-dose inhaler. He also sent home a video on appropriate use of both pieces of equipment. Dr. Davis also said we would do a series of skin tests for allergies right away. If I am allergic to certain triggers, allergy shots will help by making me less sensitive to them, making them less likely to trigger an episode (Davis).
Two instruments are commonly used in the treatment of asthma. The first is called a peak flow meter. This is a tube about six inches long and it measures your ability to push air out of your lungs. When you exhale into it, you can determine if you lungs are working at their capacity. If they are not you know it is time to take some medication, often with a metered-dose inhaler (American Lung Association). A hand-held pump, the inhaler delivers medication directly to the airways and helps patients get their breath back very quickly (Davis).
Twenty or thirty years ago, doctors believed that physical exercise made an asthmatic patient’s condition worse. At that time doctors believed a quiet, restful life was best. Now new research is showing that “people with breathing disorders who can maintain a regular program of exercise and activity are able to experience maximum cardiovascular fitness along with greater symptom control. Exercise trains the respiratory muscles to work more efficiently” (Smolley & Bruce 127-128). I was worried that I would have to drop off the softball team or miss our next camping trip. These facts, however, made me confident that I would be able to continue to do both.
What I Learned and Discovered
After doing my research, I concluded that if I developed a plan for myself, I would be able to manage my asthma. My plan addresses the areas of medical treatment, environment, and sports. If I find that I have allergies, I will take allergy shots. I’ll take my medications and monitor the peak flow levels everyday, as well as go in for checkups every three months. Prior to outdoor activities such as hiking and camping, I’ll have to check the pollen counts that are published in our local newspaper. If the counts are high, I won’t be able to participate. As for getting a dog, our family will have to postpone that decision until I’ve found if I’m allergic to them. Finally, I can continue to participate in my sports and physical activities.
In terms of a being a student, I learned a lot about doing research as a result of this project. For one thing, doing research took a lot more time than I thought it would. If I could change something about my search, I would have planned my time more efficiently. I would have scheduled an appointment well ahead of time instead of rushing to find someone at the last minute. I learned that as a student I do better work when I get to choose my own topic for research. I learned that when I get really into a topic, I spend a lot of time reading about it and yet it doesn’t feel like a lot of time has gone by/ I learned that I don’t know the internet as well as I thought I did before. Even so, I think my search was successful. Talking to my doctor helped a lot about getting actual advice for living with asthma. This project will help me in the future because it has given me an optimistic outlook on treating my asthma. I don’t feel as helpless and worried about my future anymore. In addition to these benefits, I got a lot of information that will lead me to live a full and active life, in spite of my asthma!
Heading is set to the left:
Title should be:
regular font type, 12’’ point, centered
Hook your readers with an attention-grabbing statement:
state a simple fact that will be important later
begin with a question or two
state a surprising fact, confession, a quote or a hint of what is to come
Why are you interested in your topic/ why did you choose your topic?
Explain what you already know about your topic.
Tell what you want to know about your topic.
Explain the steps of your research process.
Explains in detail where the information was found and what specific steps were taken to get information.
Book titles are italicized.
Use transition words when necessary.
Use parenthetical citations when you insert a quote. Put the author’s name in parenthesis at the end of the sentence before the period. Even if you are not directly quoting someone and you are paraphrasing, you must insert a parenthetical citation if the idea is not yours.
If a website does not have an author, put the key words of the website’s title in parenthesis.
Explain why this interview was important to your I-Search.
Include the last name of the person you interviewed in your parenthetical citation.
If your source comes from a book with more than one author, include both authors’ last names as well as the page numbers you got the information from.
Explain what you learned from your search.
Explain something you would change about your search.
Explain whether or not your search was successful.
Explain how this project will help you in the future.
End with a solid concluding statement.
Abramowicz, Mark. “Asthma, Bronchial.” Microsoft Encarta Enclyclopedia. Online.
11 May 2011. http://www.encarta.asthma/abrammarck.87.com
“Asthma Medicines.” American Lung Association Website. 13 May 2011. http://www.lungusa.org/press/association/85perent.html.
Davis, Richard P., Personal Interview. 14 May 2011.
Smolley, Laurence A. and Debra Fulghum Bruce. Breathe Right Now: A Comprehensive Guide to Understand and Treating the Most Common Breathing Disorders. New York: Norton.1991
Works cited should be in alphabetical order with the second line indented.