This is Asthma Awareness Month, more important in Kentucky than in most states; we have one of the nation’s highest rates

In May the Kentucky Department for Public Health is observing Asthma Awareness Month by cultivating awareness about the disease’s impact and working with the Kentucky Asthma Partnership to reach both health care providers and schools to assist people with asthma.

Asthma sometimes creates disability, reduces quality of life and diminishes work productivity.  “While there is no cure for asthma, the burden of the disease can be lessened with proper management. With the right tools and resources, the numbers of missed schools days and work days, emergency room visits and hospitalizations can be greatly reduced,” Public Health Commissioner Stephanie Mayfield, M.D., said in a news release from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Kentucky has one of the nation’s highest rates of asthma: one in 10 children and one in 11 adults. The disease costs Kentucky $399 million every year in direct medical costs, estimates the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma also causes loss of money through work absenteeism and is one of the top reasons children miss school.

This month the state health department will collaborate with the Kentucky Asthma Partnership to encourage providers, schools and communities to both assist people with asthma and create an asthma action plan. “Educational tools will be made available, including Creating Asthma Friendly Schools, the EPR-3 Asthma guidelines and Asthma 1-2-3 Training. In addition, the American Lung Association of the Midland States will be sponsoring the Fight for Air Walk June 7 at Iroquois Park in Louisville,” according to the press release.

According to health department staff, people need to know what to do in response to asthma attacks. “An asthma action plan helps patients identify when asthma is out of control and what steps need to be taken to respond to asthma attacks,” said Pam Spradling, manager of the state asthma program. “Parents and caregivers can help schools identify children with asthma, make sure medications are available to the child and that an asthma action plan is on file,” Spradling said. “Schools and workplaces can help reduce the risk of exposure to indoor asthma triggers year round by improving air quality and reducing exposure to second hand smoke.”

To learn more, go to the Kentucky Asthma Program’s website or the CDC’s National Asthma Control Program website.

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