Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson

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It's spring! Time to review good asthma control practices

4/16/2020 by Joy Fladager Muth, APRN, CNP

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According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in 13 people have asthma. As of 2018, the CDC reported: 

  • More than 25 million Americans have asthma and 6.2 million are under the age of 18. 
  • One in 12 school-aged children has asthma. 
  • Asthma is the leading cause of chronic disease in children. 
  • Asthma is the third-leading cause of hospital stays in children younger than 15. 
  • Boys are more likely to have asthma than girls, but women are more likely to have asthma than men. 
  • Ten Americans die from asthma each day. 
  • Adults are four times more likely than children to die from asthma. 

If you have asthma and are concerned how COVID-19 (coronavirus) might affect you, check out the most up-to-date information from the CDC

Spring is a peak season for asthma and allergy sufferers and an important time to review aspects of good asthma control for adults and children. No matter the severity level, these factors indicate that asthma is well controlled. 

  • No chronic or persistent troublesome symptoms, such as coughing or shortness of breath
  • Minimal need for quick-relief medicines — less than twice a week during the day (outside of premedication for triggers, such as exercise) or twice a month at night
  • Maintenance of best lung function (often monitored with spirometry annually or more often)
  • Maintenance of normal activity level (can exercise, play sports, attend school or work, etc.)
  • Sleeping through the night
  • One or less asthma attacks per year that results in an emergency room visit or hospitalization
  • Use of oral corticosteroids once or less per year

Poorly controlled or uncontrolled asthma can develop suddenly or come on slowly. These factors are indicators that asthma isn't being controlled:

  • Symptoms start to occur more often, are more severe or occur at night, causing sleep disruption
  • Limiting or stopping activities due to asthma symptoms
  • Missing school or work because of asthma symptoms
  • Asthma medicines don't seem to work anymore
  • Using a quick-relief inhaler more than two times a week (outside of premedication)
  • Having to go to the emergency room or see a medical provider because of an asthma attack

Patients with asthma should have a minimum of one visit with their health care provider each year to assess their level of control and adjust treatment as needed. They should also have annual screening of lung function with pulmonary function testing (primarily spirometry). Patients may need more frequent visits with their health care provider, more frequent spirometry or pulmonary function testing, and/or more medication adjustments during periods of poor asthma control. 

Successful control of asthma requires that both patients and caregivers take an active role in their care and collaborate with their health care provider. Unfortunately, there's no known cure for asthma, but it can be controlled with proper treatment, by avoiding triggers and working closely with your health care provider to regularly assess control and determine appropriate treatment. 

Joy Fladager Muth, APRN, CNP, is a primary care pediatric nurse practitioner with Primary Care in Rochester/Kasson's Division of Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (CPAM). She is one of six pediatric providers serving as Integrated Community Specialists (ICS). In her ICS role, Joy provides expert asthma care and consulting services for primary care pediatric patients with asthma in collaboration with Mayo's Pediatric Pulmonology and Pediatric Allergy specialty providers.