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About Asthma

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a disease that can make it hard to breathe.  It affects your airways, which are your body’s inner tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs.  Many things can set off or trigger asthma. Allergens, such as  mold, pollen, and dust mites, and irritants, such as tobacco smoke, wood smoke, and smog, are among the most common triggers. Asthma can also be triggered by exercise, strong emotions, or getting a cold. When asthma becomes worse than usual it is called an asthma attack.

Who is at risk for asthma?

You are more likely to get asthma if:
    your parents have asthma
    you have allergies

How many people in Maine have asthma?

According to the Maine Center for Disease Control, Maine has some of the highest rates of asthma in the United States.  It is one of the leading reasons children in our state do not attend school, and it is the fourth most common reason adults miss work. Approximately 10% of Maine’s adults and more than 10% of Maine’s children have asthma.
No one knows for sure why so many people in Maine have asthma, but some of the causes may be environmental.  Our dense forests produce plenty of pollen and many of our citizens still rely on burning wood to heat their homes.  We have less hours of sunshine than other states, and higher levels of summertime ozone.  Geographically, we are located in what is called the “tail pipe” of the United States.  Air currents from the Midwest and the Gulf Stream bring in high levels of soot, smog, and smoke. To learn more about asthma’s impact on Maine, click HERE.

Why do you need to know about asthma?

Asthma is a serious condition, so if you or a loved one has asthma, it's important to do everything you can to stay healthy.  Staying healthy means being an educated and active patient and receiving high-quality medical care. High-quality asthma care starts with having a doctor who respects you, communicates clearly, and involves you in decisions about your care.  Quality care is care that has been proven to work.  Your doctor should always evaluate you to see if you should get the care experts recommend and when. 

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011) Asthma. Retrieved from

National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010).  Asthma. Retrieved from
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (2010) How to describe the health and community context for comparative performance reports: sample language for five health topics. Princeton, NJ.

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