According to the Department of Public Health and Human Services, 26 million people living in the United States have asthma. May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month and May 7 is World Asthma Day. Asthma is a chronic lifelong disease that affects the lungs of thousands of children and adults. BJ Biskupiak is the Program Coordinator for the Asthma Control Program and he says 1 in 10 people in Montana currently have asthma.

“In Montana it is estimated that about 94,000 Montanans currently have asthma,” Biskupiak said. “What we want to do through world asthma day is just bring attention to the impacts that asthma can have on the daily lives of those dealing with that chronic condition and also their families as well.”

Biskupiak says asthma is a serious condition, but it is manageable.

“With self-management education and with trigger identification, those individuals can really improve their outcomes,” Biskupiak said. “That can also be done with their healthcare provider. Unfortunately, in Montana, we have to deal with wildfire smoke, cold weather inversions, and quite a bit of spring time and fall allergies. At times, it can be really daunting for those individuals with asthma.”

According to Biskupiak, the costs associated with asthma are significant.

“In 2017, the estimated total charge for emergency room visits for asthma was about $3.7 million,” Biskupiak said. “If we can educate folks about their triggers, medication adherence, and just overall asthma knowledge, hopefully we can avoid those hospitalizations and emergency department visits that really add up.”

In Montana, 30% of adults and 39% of children with asthma reported missing at least one day of work or school in the last year due to their asthma. For more information about Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, please visit the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America website.