Asthma Awareness Month In Maryland

The chronic disease affects one in 13 people in the US.

Baltimore, Md (KM) Governor Wes Moore has signed a proclamation declaring May Asthma Awareness Month in Maryland. He’s urging all Marylanders to have an Asthma Action Plan, monitor air quality and reduce asthma triggers at home and at work.

Dr. Nilesh Kalyanamrman, the Deputy Secretary of Public Health for the Maryland Department of Health, says asthma is a chronic disease which makes it hard to breathe. “It can make daily activities difficult without the use of medication, or it can cause severe asthma attacks where you have difficulty breathing that requires a visit to the emergency department or hospitalizations,” he says.

One in 13 people in the US are affected by asthma, and in 2018, it resulted in more than 29,000 asthma-related emergency department visits in Maryland, according to the State Health Department.

Dr. Kalyanaraman says a lot of the triggers of asthma are air pollution, tobacco smoke, allergens such as mold or pet dander, or infections. “It’s related to factors such as poor quality housing that’s historically affected some groups more than others, particularly Black children have almost five times the rate of asthma-related emergency department visits as White children,” he said.

But any child, no matter their race or economic background, can get asthma, says Dr. Kalyanaraman.

However, there is help for children with asthma for families that qualify. “For children who are 18 or younger, who have moderate to severe asthma, and they’re on Medicaid or the Maryland Children’s Health Program, they get home visits,” says Dr. Kalyanaraman.

!1 jurisdictions in Maryland, including Frederick County, provide these home visits. “They get these home visits by a health department case manager to really look at what are the supports that you need to get your asthma under control,” he says.

“So that’s things like  asthma education, working to reduce to asthma triggers,”: Dr. Kalyanaraman continues. “Both through education and through providing equipment such as HEPA vacuum cleaners to control allergens.”

But he says most persons with asthma carry  around an inhaler to help them breathe when the need comes along. “People who have asthma who have their medications and  are able to take them and control their exposures, live normal,  full lives,” says Dr. Kalyanaraman.

By Kevin McManus