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Health Matters

News and information for King County employees and their families

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May is Asthma Awareness MonthMay is Asthma Awareness Month

Asthma is the most common reason for children to be hospitalized in King County.  Washington state has one of the highest asthma rates in the nation - in families with children in Washington State, one in ten is affected by asthma.  Asthma can’t be cured, but it can be successfully managed to reduce asthma attacks and impact on those living with asthma.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic lung disease causing repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing. Asthma affects people of all ages and backgrounds. In most cases, we don't know what causes asthma, and we don't know how to cure it. Certain factors may make it more likely for one person to have asthma than another. If someone in your family has asthma, you are more likely to have it.

With your healthcare provider's help, you can make a personal asthma management plan Can asthma be managed?

Regular physical exams that include checking your lung function and checking for allergies can help your healthcare provider check for asthma symptoms and make the right diagnosis. With your healthcare provider's help, you can make a personal asthma management plan so that you know what to do based on your symptoms. Use your asthma medicine as prescribed and be aware of common triggers in the environment known to bring on asthma symptoms, including smoke (including second-hand and third-hand cigarette smoke), household pets, dust mites, and pollen. Limit or avoid exposure to these and other triggers whenever possible. The important thing to remember is that you can control your asthma.

Successful asthma management includes knowing the warning signs of an attack, avoiding things that may trigger an attack, and following the advice of your healthcare provider. Using what you know about managing your asthma can give you control over this chronic disease. When you control your asthma, you will breathe better, be as active as you would like, sleep well, stay out of the hospital, and be free from coughing and wheezing. To learn more about how you can control your asthma, visit CDC's asthma site.

For resources in King County to manage asthma, check out Public Health – Seattle & King County’s asthma page.