What is asthma and what can you do about it?

Prepare for the sniffling and sneezing season by learning more about asthma.

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways. The inflammation of the airways is there all the time, even if the person is feeling fine. Michigan State University Extension partners with local health organizations to offer Personal Action Toward Health (PATH) workshops. PATH provides the skills and tools to manage chronic health conditions, including breathing conditions.

Environmental and other factors such as dust, pollen, pet dander or strong smells; provoke the recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing, particularly at night and in the early morning. These episodes are usually associated with variable airflow obstruction that is often reversible, either spontaneously or with treatment.

Although asthma cannot be cured, with proper management many asthmatics can prevent chronic symptoms and maintain normal activity levels.

According to a 2011 Michigan Department of Community Health report, asthma is an under-managed chronic disease in the state of Mich., as evidenced by data on self-management behaviors and health care utilization. Of the 686,000 adults with asthma in Mich., less than one-half report that their disease is well controlled and nearly a quarter report their disease is poorly controlled. Of the 197,000 children in Mich., 9.5 percent had two or more emergency room or urgent care visits for asthma in the last year and three percent had a hospitalization for asthma. You can learn more on the American Lung Association website http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/asthma/ .

People who participate in PATH workshops are better equipped to face the daily challenges of living with one or more chronic conditions. PATH is a six-week series facilitated by two trained leaders who have chronic conditions themselves.

Through PATHyou’ll learn to deal with the challenges of not feeling well, talk to healthcare providers and family members, overcome stress and relax, increase your energy, handle everyday activities more easily, stay independent and set goals. To find a PATH class near you in Michigan, go to www.msue.msu.edu.

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