Empowering Asthma Awareness: Managing a Chronic Condition for Better Health

Take a deep breath—and know that over 1.5 million Floridians struggle to do it each day because they have asthma. Throughout this month, Capital Health Plan is joining the American Lung Association to highlight this widespread respiratory condition during Asthma Awareness Month.

In Florida alone, 1 in 11 adults and almost 1 in 10 children cope with the wheezing, coughing, and breathlessness that comes with asthma. It affects all of us in one way or another – Americans spend over $1.8 billion each year on asthma-related medical expenses and missed work/school days.

But what exactly is asthma? It’s a chronic condition that can begin at any age, affecting breathing due to swelling inside the lungs and airways and tightening of the muscles that wrap around the airways. Causes are varied, and can range from family history and allergies to infections and exposure to inhaled pollutants. Asthma can be mild to severe, and if left untreated it can cause the lungs and airways to become scarred and more resistant to treatment. 

The good news? With the right approach, most people with asthma can live active, unrestricted lives. According to the American Lung Association, the keys to managing asthma include avoiding triggers, medication, and monitoring.

Triggers vary according to the individual, and allergy testing can help to identify specific allergic triggers. Common ones include foods, medications, smoke, pollen, plants, animals, irritants, air pollution, exercise, viral or bacterial illnesses, and emotions. A doctor can work with you to identify solutions and make a plan to deal with triggering environments and situations. 

A variety of medications can help prevent, control, and treat asthma symptoms. These include medications for allergies, inflammation, infections, and other conditions that can contribute to asthma symptoms. Making a system for remembering to use medications, such as a routine, alarm, or pill box, can be helpful. Two of the most common medications are:

  • Long-term controller medications. These reduce the swelling and inflammation in the airways and typically need to be used every day, even when you’re feeling well. Using controller medication regularly can reduce the need for quick-relief medication. 

  • Quick-relief medication, such as a rescue inhaler, can relax the airway and quickly make breathing easier. 

Monitoring symptoms and response to treatment with a diary or log can be helpful. For many asthma patients, working with a doctor to develop an action plan that includes learning how to use a quantifying peak flow meter can mean the difference between well-controlled and uncontrolled asthma. 

Research is ongoing, currently focusing on the immune system, genetic causes of asthma, subtypes, mobile technology, and better management in schools.

This Asthma Awareness Month, let's celebrate the progress that has already been made, even as we renew our commitment to support those affected across the Big Bend area. After all, the ability to take a full, uninhibited breath is something countless of our neighbors still wish for every day.

For more information, go to https://www.lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/asthma.

Sourced By: Healthwise
Reviewed By: Capital Health Plan Physicians Group
Posted: May 2, 2024

2024-05-02 19:30:00