The Roundup -

By Kay Nice 

May Is Asthma Awareness Month


Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) officials say that about 1 in 11 people in Montana currently have asthma. Asthma is a serious chronic condition, causing swelling of the airways that affects thousands of children and adults. That means that about half (52%) of adults and one third (36%) of children with current asthma in Montana report symptoms indicating that their asthma is not well or very poorly controlled. Additional facts about asthma in Montana: An estimated 89,400 people in Montana have current asthma. About 25% of adults and 32% of children with asthma report missing at least 1 day of work or school in the last year, respectively, due to their asthma. About 60% of adults and children with asthma report limiting their activities at least a little bit because of asthma. Not all adults with asthma report knowing the signs and symptoms of an asthma attack (65%), having been taught how to respond to an attack (78%), or having an asthma action plan to help make treatment decisions (25%). Almost 1 in 10 adults with asthma report they are unable to fill an asthma medication prescription due to cost. Of a sample of children with uncontrolled asthma, only 26% were determined to have good inhaler technique.

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, developing an Asthma Action Plan with your primary care provider to outline what medications to use when, 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.” If properly treated and controlled through self-management, asthma should not limit a person’s daily activities or cause troublesome symptoms.

There are many things that can trigger an asthma attack, including cigarette smoke, smoke from fires, strong fumes or odors, chemicals, colds or the flu, cold air, and strong emotions. Other common triggers include allergies to pollens, molds, and pet dander, as well as the outdoor air quality.

For more information about Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month and World Asthma Day on May 3rd, please visit the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America website at A toolkit with information for people with asthma, schools, public health practitioners, and others is at

Awareness of air quality is especially important for people living with asthma as Montana approaches wildfire season. Air Quality Awareness Week is also during Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, and is taking place from May 2 to May 6, 2016. For activities and information related to Air Quality Awareness Week, please visit You can learn more about air quality in your community by visiting the website maintained by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality at

To contact the Montana Asthma Control Program or to learn more about asthma activities in Montana communities, go to

If you live in Richland, Roosevelt or Dawson counties and would like to learn more about receiving free asthma education in your home, on your schedule through The Montana Asthma Home Visiting Program (MAP), which is available through The Richland County Health Department, call 406-433-2207.


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