For many people, a troubling cough is a common, uneventful occurrence. But for those who suffer from asthma, it can be life-threatening.
May is Asthma Awareness Month, and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is urging people to learn about asthma and the problems it can cause. This chronic disease of the lungs affects more than 512,000 adults and more than 115,000 children in Indiana and claimed the lives of more than 50 Hoosiers in 2016.
Asthma causes wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and early morning or nighttime cough. Factors such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, pet dander or dust mites can trigger an asthma attack, causing the sides of the lungs to swell and airways to shrink, reducing the ability to breathe.
“Asthma can reduce a person’s quality of life because it makes breathing difficult, resulting in even the most basic tasks being hard to accomplish,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, MD, FACOG. “A severe asthma attack can require an emergency room visit and hospitalization and in some cases can even be fatal.”
The risk of hospitalization and death from asthma can be reduced by knowing the warning signs of an attack, controlling it with the proper treatment, avoiding things that trigger an attack and having an action plan.
People with asthma and parents of children with asthma are urged to work with their healthcare providers to complete an asthma action plan that lists the individual’s daily treatment regimen, how to control asthma and what to do if it worsens or an attack occurs.
These plans are especially important for children and their caregivers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children are most susceptible to asthma, and one in 11 school-aged children in Indiana have this disease. To see a sample asthma action plan, go to http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/actionplan.html.