Part Three: The Burden of Asthma in Milwaukee

Written by admin   // September 15, 2011   // 0 Comments

I answered yes to the asthma questions. Now what?

These are the identifying elements of determining if you should have your breathing investigated to confirm if asthma is your problem. Investigating means evaluation with testing and a detailed symptom history.

The sooner evaluation and treatment is sought, the better the long term outcomes will be. This is also true for infants and young children who doctors are often reluctant to diagnosis with asthma.

However, it is less important what they call it and most important that it is treated appropriately and within a timely manner.

Too often preventative treatment is delayed due to age and the results are frequent office, ER and Urgent Care visits due to increasing symptom frequency, duration and intensity. Breathing is designed to be effortless in its’ resting state.

If your baby or child does not appear to be breathing with ease at rest AND there is a definitive family history of allergy and/or asthma, you need to talk to a specialist.

If one parent has asthma/allergy, the likelihood of the child developing asthma is around 40%. If both parents have asthma/allergy, that figure rises to above 80%, so you should be aware of these factors even before your child is born to know what to look for and what to do in the event your child is positive for some breathing disorder.

Asthma and You-How You Can Make a Difference

Asthma has affected the poor and racial minorities more than any other groups in Milwaukee with higher inpatient hospitalization rates and ER visits.

A large part of the problem lies within the structure of the healthcare system; poor health care delivery systems, lack of access to adequate insurance coverage and lack of motivation of providers to change the current model of managing these populations so poorly.

However, we must make it incumbent upon us to do our part to survive and thrive without succumbing to a very manageable condition.

We need to be educated about the condition so that we know what questions to ask our providers.

We need to stop crisis management or episodic treatment of this condition, in other words, we need to continue our treatment even when we’re feeling fine and there are no symptoms.

We need to be honest with providers about any concerns we have with the medication plan. Don’t agree to do something that you do not plan to do. Don’t try to fool your provider by telling them you’re following the medication plan and you’re not.

If you have concerns about the medications in your plan, tell your provider and see what other options are available.

We need to take care of our breathing to keep us out of the ER’s and hospitals that are robbing us of a higher quality of life so unnecessarily.

We need to stop making the excuse of not having time to manage asthma. What is on your to do list that is more important than breathing?

I recognize that some of the problems are with the system not playing the role of health care provider but I also see many of us not keeping our doctor appointments, not picking up medications from pharmacies, and worst of all, the number of asthmatics that continue to smoke is alarming.

The Costs of Asthma, Is There A Better Way?

The health care system is designed to take care of you when you’re sick, they profit on you being sick and should probably be called a sick care system instead. Our numbers in the hospitals reflect the success of their strategy.

If our health care system was truly committed to your health, it would invest in the measures that would prevent numerous ER visits and hospital admissions for asthma.

Because asthma primarily affects the poor and minorities, these populations are most likely to be found on Medicaid.

The cost of asthma care in hospitals then is astronomical. We are using taxpayer money to fund the most expensive form of care that produces the worst outcomes for patients and we have been stuck in this rut for over two decades.

This is a truly broken system that works for no one, everybody loses.

The financial impact goes beyond just the massive cost of expensive care, but it extends into education and the workforce.

Asthma is the number one cause of school absenteeism causing vast numbers of school age children to either miss a lot of school days or be unproductive at school because of the difficulty they have breathing.

They miss sports, gym and other extracurricular activities that are essential to the normal development and well being of children.

Parents miss work to care for children, schools miss funding when children are absent and the entire educational system is disrupted.

People with asthma are losing jobs because of the frequency of their asthma attacks and the high number of sick days they must use as a result of their condition.

While racial minorities and lower socioeconomic groups are facing the greatest number of obstacles to employment and education, asthma is one hurdle that has the best chance of being removed.

If we could move education and evaluation to the forefront of asthma management, it would save millions of dollars, improve the lives of millions of people and provide a system that would actually benefit all parties involved.

It’s time we make a stand for ourselves and show the world we can combat this menacing disease and see life in a new light.

This three part series was written by Dorian James, RCP, a Respiratory Therapist and Certified Asthma Edcuator from the Pulmedix Asthma Care Center located at 6815 W. Capitol Dr in Suite 216. For further information call 414-393-4002, email or visit our website


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