Asthma is a chronic disease of the respiratory system characterized by reversible obstruction of the airways and airway hyper-responsiveness to a variety of stimuli. In Connecticut, it has been found that the following population subgroups are disproportionately affected by asthma: children, females, Hispanics, non-Hispanic Blacks and residents of the state’s five largest cities.
- The prevalence of Connecticut adults reporting current asthma increased from 7.8% in 2000 to 9.2% in 2010.
- Asthma is the single most avoidable cause of hospitalization, yet it is consistently one of the most common admitting diagnoses in pediatrics.
- In 2009, Connecticut spent over $112 million for acute care due to asthma as a primary diagnosis.
- Also in 2009, $80.3 million was spent on hospitalization charges and $32.6 million on emergency department (ED) visit charges.
Information about Connecticut’s Five Largest Cities:
Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford and Waterbury
Residents accounted for 41% ($46 million) of the $112 million cost of asthma acute care costs in 2009. Of the $112 million, $78 million (69%) were paid for by public funds (Medicaid or Medicare). In Connecticut’s five largest cities, 79% ($36 million) of asthma hospitalizations and ED visits were paid by public funds.
In contrast, public funds paid for 63% ($42 million) of asthma hospitalizations and ED visits of residents from the rest of the state.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states, “All people with asthma should have an asthma action plan. An asthma action plan (also called a management plan) is a written plan that you develop with your doctor to help control your asthma.”
The Asthma Action Plan (AAP) lists all medications with instructions on when they should be taken. It is a simple plan that describes how to achieve long-term control and what to do when asthma symptoms arises.
The plan should make clear when to take each type of medication and when to call the doctor or call for emergency medical help. Divide the plan into three categories or zones:
- How to handle your asthma when you’re feeling good and have no symptoms.
- What to do if you start to have symptoms.
- The steps to take if your symptoms are severe or you can’t control them.
You probably won’t need to change your action plan for the winter, but since you may be more likely to need it during the cold months, make sure you review your plan before winter and keep it handy.
Treating Winter Asthma
People with asthma not only use quick-relief meds; they often need to take medicine every day for long-term asthma control. But sometimes they make the mistake of stopping the medications when they no longer feel symptoms.
So, even if you haven’t had a flare-up for a long time, be sure to follow your doctor’s directions for controlling your asthma. As winter nears, make sure you have current prescriptions for all medications.
To protect yourself from asthma flare-ups due to chilly weather, you should:
- Cover your face: drape a scarf across your mouth and nose, or wear a winter face mask that covers the bottom half of your face.
- Exercise indoors. Work out at a gym or inside your home, or walk laps inside a mall.
For more information on asthma control, or to download an asthma action plan, visit the Department of Public Health website, http://www.ct.gov/dph/asthma, or call The Asthma Program at: 860-509-8251.
Sources: CT Department of Public Health & WebMed.com