Asthma Awareness Month

Post by Dan Wilson, RRT, CPFT, AEC

Did you know that May is Asthma Awareness Month? HealthNet’s Pulmonary Disease Management Educator, Dan Wilson, helps patients make treatment plans to deal with their Asthma so they can live a normal life.

A few Asthma Factoids according to the Marion County Public Health Department:

  • 9.5% of Indiana children age 0-10, and 11.8% of 11-17 year olds currently have asthma.
  • Nearly 12% of adults living in Marion County have asthma.
  • Asthma incidence has been increasing in the U.S. at more than 4% per year since the 1980’s.
  • A family history of asthma or allergy increases asthma risk in childhood by 90%.
  • Boys are at greater risk of asthma than girls.
  • Maternal pre-natal smoking and a child’s exposure to environmental tobacco smoke are risk factors for asthma incidence in children.

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a disease of the airway passages in the lungs. The airway passages become swollen and the muscles on the outside of the airways get tight and this makes it difficult to breathe. Common symptoms include coughing with mucus, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Someone with asthma may have “flare-ups” caused by triggers such as tobacco smoke, allergies or catching a cold. Asthma typically develops in early childhood however asthma can develop later in life too.

Are There Different Types and Levels of Asthma?

Yes, the most common type of asthma is Allergic Asthma. Someone who is allergic to furry pets or has seasonal allergies can have asthma symptoms when exposed to these things. Another type of asthma is Non-Allergic Asthma. This type of asthma is caused by inhaling irritants such as chemicals, fumes, or combustion of biofuels like wood or coal.

The mildest level of asthma is Intermittent Asthma which only appears occasionally. Then there are three persistent levels of asthma; Mild, Moderate, and Severe. These levels are more serious and require daily medication to control symptoms.

Is There a Cure For Asthma?

No, but asthma can be treated and controlled effectively by following a treatment plan using prescribed inhaled medications daily as directed by your health care provider.

Is Asthma Contagious?

No. Asthma is passed on through genes like if your parents or grandparents had asthma. However research also shows people can develop asthma if they live in an area of high air pollution, or work or live in an environment with poor air quality.  Mothers who smoke tobacco during pregnancy are more likely to have children who develop asthma.

Can Someone With Asthma Have a Normal and Active Life?

Yes. Many professional athletes have asthma and perform at a high level because they take asthma seriously and follow the recommendations of their health care provider. Talk with your health care provider about your asthma. Together you and your provider can design a treatment plan that can control your asthma from being a problem.

Need help dealing with your Asthma? Call a HealthNet location near you or visit

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