FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 4, 2015
Contact: Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391
Celebrate World Asthma Day May 5
DPHHS Asthma Control Program offers tools and resources to help
Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) officials say that nearly 1 in 12 people in Montana currently have asthma.
Further, 6 out of 10 adults and children with asthma report the condition limits their activities.
However, the DPHHS Asthma Control Program is working with certified asthma educators and other health care providers, childcare professionals, home visitors, and community members across the state to help people better understand how to make changes in their day-to-day life to control their asthma. These are changes such as accessing quality, guidelines-based care for asthma, gaining skills to improve inhaler technique, and identifying what triggers asthma and how to remove triggers from home, work, or school.
According to Jessie Fernandes of the Montana Asthma Control Program, the key is learning how to self-manage the disease. “It is important that a person knows their triggers and their medications and knows how to respond early to an attack,” she said. “The program works to help Montanans have better control of their disease and better quality of life.”
She said this is all information that can be developed into an Asthma Action Plan with a primary care provider. An Asthma Action Plan provides information about what medications to use when, and how to respond to signs of an asthma attack.
Even though asthma can be controlled, many people with asthma in Montana live with frequent symptoms, activity limitations, and poor quality of life; about half (52%) of adults and one third (36%) of children with current asthma in Montana report asthma symptoms indicating that their asthma is not well or very poorly controlled. “Well-controlled asthma shouldn’t limit activities,” Fernandes says.
The Montana Asthma Control Program conducts various activities around the state, many of which focus heavily on providing asthma self-management education. One activity, the Montana Asthma Home Visiting Program (MAP), has demonstrated that upon completion, the percent of enrolled children with good inhaler technique increased from 26% to 93%, the percent having an Asthma Action Plan increased from 25% to 89%, and the percent of children having symptoms on all 30 days of the last month decreased from 23% to 4%. Other activities, conducted with health care facilities and school nurses, work to achieve similar results.
May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month and May 5 is World Asthma Day. “Now is the peak season for asthma- and allergy-related medical problems, so it’s a great time to educate and spread awareness,” Fernandes said.
For more information about Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, please visit the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America website at www.aafa.org. A toolkit with information for people with asthma, schools, public health practitioners, and others is at www.cdc.gov/asthma/world_asthma_day.htm.
To contact the Montana Asthma Control Program or to learn more about asthma activities in Montana communities go to dphhs.mt.gov/asthma.