Per the Maryland Department of Health: Following Governor Wes Moore’s proclamation of May as Asthma Awareness Month, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) is urging Marylanders to have an Asthma Action Plan, monitor air quality, and reduce asthma triggers in the home and at school and work.
Asthma is a serious, common, and chronic lung disease that causes difficulty breathing and affects about one in 13 people, and in 2018 resulted in more than 29,000 asthma-related emergency department visits in Maryland. The state health department is working closely with its partners to continue sharing critical information and resources on this issue.
MDH is working to reduce disparities in asthma-related emergency department visits. Black children in Maryland have almost five times the rate of asthma-related emergency department visits as White children – a health disparity with cascading effects, including missed school days for children, productivity and income loss for caregivers, and increased health care costs for the state.
Maryland has set a goal to reduce the overall rate of childhood emergency department visits between 2018 and 2026 by 42 percent for all children, and by 50 percent for Black children. To reach this goal, the state health department and its partners are educating families and providers on asthma diagnosis, treatment, and management. The state health department is also working with health care systems to automatically refer eligible children with moderate to severe asthma to local health department home visiting programs.
Help is available for families with a child with asthma. Maryland has an innovative home visiting program that operates in 11 jurisdictions (Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Harford, Montgomery, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s, and Wicomico Counties, and Baltimore City). The home visiting program provides three to six home visits for children with moderate to severe asthma by a local health department case manager, which include an evaluation of environmental triggers, parent education, provision of supplies shown to reduce asthma severity, such as a HEPA vacuum cleaner, and other interventions proven to improve outcomes for children with moderate to severe asthma. The program also supports care coordination among the providers who interact with the child through use of Asthma Action Plans.
Asthma Action Plans are essential to managing asthma. The cause of asthma is unknown. Although asthma cannot be cured, it can be managed. Marylanders with asthma are urged to talk to their healthcare provider to develop an Asthma Action Plan. Your Asthma Action Plan will explain what to do to manage your asthma, including:
Knowing and avoiding your asthma triggers
Taking medicines as told to you by your doctor
Recognizing when you’re having an asthma attack and what to do
Knowing when to contact your doctor or go to the emergency department
Identifying who to contact in an emergency
If you or your child has asthma, talk to your health care provider to develop or update your Asthma Action Plan.
To learn more about Asthma Action Plans, visit https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/actionplan.html.
For more information about asthma programs and services, or events related to Asthma Awareness Month, visit https://health.maryland.gov/phpa/OEhfp/eh/Pages/asthma.aspx.