Jean is the Director of the Asthma Prevention and Control Program
Asthma affects people of all ages. Yet, while there is a lot of literature out there about asthma in children, there’s a huge lack of information available on asthma in older adults (those aged 65 and older). And with an overall lack of knowledge about asthma in this age group, older adults continue to be under-diagnosed and under-treated.
Further, three out of four older adults with asthma in Massachusetts feel they do not have “good control” over their condition. With the rate of asthma in this population rising every year, it’s important to make sure that older adults have the knowledge and tools they need to safely control asthma. Hospitalizations and deaths due to asthma are preventable. Everyone – young and old – can manage their asthma and live full, active lives!
Ask your health care provider about an Asthma Action Plan. From daily routine management to the fast-paced moments of an asthma attack, a pre-prepared Asthma Action Plan is crucial. Still, only 25% of older Massachusetts adults with asthma reported ever having created a plan with their healthcare provider. If you or someone you love has asthma, speak with a doctor immediately to create a plan that covers all the bases of controlling asthma.
Know your warning signs. Everybody is unique, including the symptoms they experience during an asthma attack. Work with your health care provider to learn how to respond quickly and correctly to your warning signs. These may include severe coughing, wheezing, rapid breathing, chest pain and tightening, anxiety, or sweats.
Improve your environment. A doctor can help you identify and reduce allergens and irritants in the environment that may trigger attacks. Common environmental triggers include pets, mice, mold, cleaning products, cockroaches, dust and dust mites. In addition, reducing or eliminating exposure to tobacco smoke is an important way to improve your asthma.
Look into medication and get vaccinated. Older adults may take medications that conflict with their asthma medications. Work with your doctor to ensure you can manage all your medications and health conditions. In addition, adults with asthma are at high risk for complications from lung infections such as influenza and pneumonia. Getting vaccinated is an important step you can take to protect yourself.
Stay active. More than half of older adults with asthma report they had to cut down their usual activities in the past year. Asthma should not be a barrier to exercise! Work with your doctor to manage your asthma so you can be active. Try activities that allow you to control your own pace like bicycling, walking, jogging, or swimming. Talk to your doctor about which activities are right for you. Outdoor activity is best earlier in the mornings, as air pollution and allergen levels rise during the day. Don’t exercise on days with pollution warnings. To sign up for pollution alerts go to: http://www.enviroflash.info/signup.cfm.
Get prepared to control your asthma – don’t let asthma control you! For more information on asthma in older adults in Massachusetts, visit http://www.mass.gov/dph/asthma.
A Youth-Led Movement to Make Smoking History posted on Mar 24
Last week I was thrilled to join so many dedicated young people from all across the Commonwealth at my first Kick Butts Day at the State House. Kick Butts Day is an event that focuses on raising awareness on the dangers of tobacco–and how young …Continue Reading A Youth-Led Movement to Make Smoking History
Weekly Flu Report, March 20, 2015 posted on Mar 20
The latest weekly flu report shows that rates of flu-like illness increased slightly in the past seven days, following several weeks of declining numbers. This is in keeping with the unpredictable nature of flu, and is an indication that flu continues to spread in our …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, March 20, 2015
National Nutrition Month posted on Mar 17
March is National Nutrition Month! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sponsors this campaign each year, encouraging people to make informed food choices and get daily physical activity. This year, the theme is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.” Small, bite sized changes are all it …Continue Reading National Nutrition Month