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AIM Fall 2014 Newsletter

Fall 2014 - In This Issue:


Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is now in Michigan. It can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. Children with asthma who get EV-D68 seem to have a higher risk for severe respiratory illness.


This virus likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches surfaces that have been coughed or sneezed upon. This virus is very contagious.


EV-D68 tips for people with asthma:

  • Talk with your doctor, and update your asthma action plan.
  • Take your asthma medications as directed, especially long term control medication(s).
  • Keep your quick-relief medication with you at all times.
  • If you have new asthma symptoms, or they are getting worse, follow the steps of your asthma action plan. If your symptoms do not go away, call your doctor right away. 


Asthma Educator Sharing Day ~ Oct. 30

Tips & Tools to Help You Bloom

If you are an asthma educator, certified or not, you are invited to the Asthma Educator Sharing Day on October 30, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Interactive Learning Center, Michigan Public Health Institute in Okemos, Michigan.

Agenda includes presentations on motivational interviewing, endobronchial thermoplasty, new asthma meds, AAFA's Wee Breathers, breathing exercises, tobacco issues and much more. Continuing Ed Credits for RNs and RTs (pending)


Event links: For more information, or to register directly by October 17.

New Help for Women with Asthma

by Drs. Belinda Nelson and Randall Brown
Michigan and national statistics both show that asthma affects women in different ways than men. More women than men have asthma, and the Michigan Asthma Call Back Survey tells us that women have asthma symptoms more often, have more trouble sleeping from asthma, are less active than they want to be due to asthma, and have more asthma-related emergency department (ED) and urgent care visits, and hospital stays than men with asthma. The question is: why? 

Along with common triggers of asthma like tobacco smoke and mold, asthma symptoms in women can also be triggered by hormonal changes during puberty, menstrual cycles, pregnancy and menopause. Women are often taking care of their asthma
while they also juggle a busy life - a full time job, running the home, caring for children (who may also have asthma) or aging parents - and stress can take a toll as well. Women are also more likely to be around asthma triggers like cooking odors and fumes from cleaning supplies, hair sprays and perfumes. Women may have less social or family support and be in charge of households on their own, making care of their asthma or any other life-long disease harder. Because of all of these things, women often put care for their own health after everything else.

Hannah, a 28-year old woman spotlighted on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website is a good example. Hannah's asthma had been under control until early in her pregnancy, when her symptoms got worse. Her doctor told her that asthma can get worse during pregnancy since hormone levels are always changing. If her asthma is not well controlled, he said, her baby might not get enough oxygen and would be at higher risk for being born early and other health problems. Hannah is told to stay away from her asthma triggers and to keep close track of her symptoms during pregnancy. 

Asthma education and coaching can help women take better care of their asthma, have fewer symptoms and ED visits, and make their overall life better. The Center for Managing Chronic
Disease at the University of Michigan, with national partners, has designed Women Breathe Free to focus on the special needs of women with asthma. If you are a woman with asthma over the age of 18, Women Breathe Free offers a free asthma counseling program about many areas of asthma care, with four telephone sessions that are made to fit each woman's asthma and life. With a trained asthma educator, women use simple steps to find the roots of their asthma care troubles, and make plans to fix them. Women Breathe Free is the first program of its kind that gives women a caring space to talk with an asthma educator about their asthma problems, questions, and goals for lifelong asthma control. You can sign up for this program on the Allergy and Asthma Network/Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) website or call 1-800-878-4403. 

If Hannah was being coached by a Women Breathe Free asthma educator, she would start tracking her symptoms on an asthma diary and see that they tend to get worse on weekends. Her asthma educator could help her find the times on the weekend that her symptoms get worse. If the household cleaners she uses are causing the problem, her asthma educator can help her set goals to make changes, like finding cleaners that don't have strong odors, or finding others to help with the weekend cleaning. The asthma educator would keep working with Hannah to find and solve her other asthma control problems in the same way, and have Hannah talk with her doctor about an asthma action plan made just for her needs. 

Share this great new resource with the women you know who have asthma!

Belinda Nelson, PhD, is co-author of the Women Breathe Free program Randall Brown, MD, MPH, AE-C is Director of Asthma programs, Center for Managing Chronic Disease, University of Michigan