Originally posted at http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=DHS+Press+Releases&id=526262&v=article
AUGUSTA – Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the lungs, leading
to breathing problems including coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and trouble
sleeping. In most cases, the cause is unknown and there is no known cure.
In Maine, more than 22,000 children and over 100,000 adults currently have
asthma, which places Maine in the top 10 states when comparing adult asthma
rates. In 2009,there were 14 deaths, 1,169 hospitalizations and 8,482 emergency
department visits due to asthma, according to the Maine Center for Disease
Control and Prevention’s Office of Data, Research and Vital Statistics.
Asthma attacks occur when something bothers the lungs and causes sudden
breathing problems. These are known as ‘asthma triggers’ and some of the more
common ones are tobacco smoke, outdoor air pollution, mold, cleaning agents,
dust mites and strong smells from perfumes and colognes.
Asthma can be controlled and treated. National guidelines include using
medication as prescribed – not just when experiencing symptoms; knowing how to
avoid asthma triggers; working with a physician or healthcare provider to design
a written asthma action plan; making two visits to a physician each year for
routine asthma care; and getting an annual flu shot.
An asthma action plan gives instructions on what medicine to use and how
often, as wells as what to do if symptoms get worse. The plan is especially
important for children to have a plan available at home and at school. School
nurses, coaches and school administrators rely on the asthma action plan when a
student has an asthma attack. Following these treatment guidelines will help
avoid unnecessary and costly emergency department visits and hospitalizations,
and missed work or school days.
There is evidence that adults with asthma are more susceptible to invasive
pneumococcal disease (IPD), which includes pneumonia, meningitis and other
diseases. Vaccines for children and adults are available which are effective at
preventing severe disease, hospitalization and death from IPD. Ask your health
care provider for information about these vaccines.
The Maine CDC Asthma Prevention and Control Program has asthma action plan
forms and other information available at their web site: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/population-health/mat/index.htm