Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Asthma Awareness Month offers time to look at new ways of controlling the disease

About one in 10 Missourians have asthma, a chronic condition caused by inflammation of the lungs. In Missouri alone, an average of 75 people die each year from the disease. Many of these deaths, however, are preventable with awareness, knowledge and treatment.

“I think the most important message about asthma is to know the difference between coping with asthma and controlling asthma,” says Michelle Dickens, a nurse practitioner and Certified Asthma Educator at CoxHealth. “So many patients live with uncontrolled asthma, accepting that daily symptoms are just part of their disease. But it doesn’t have to be that way.”

With an individualized treatment plan, one that also includes management of asthma triggers and patient self-management education, most patients with asthma can gain control of their symptoms. There are also several new therapies on the market and in development for certain patients with asthma that is difficult to control. These medications target specific parts of the immune system to decrease the inflammation in the lung that causes asthma.

“People often think that because they have asthma, they cannot be active or lead a normal life,” says Dickens. “Up to 20 percent of the members of the U.S. Olympic team have asthma. So we know that with the right treatment plan, good asthma control is possible.”

For more information about asthma, contact the CoxHealth Asthma Center at 417-875-3742.