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Asthma is a lung disease characterized by narrowing of the airways that causes continuing episodes or attacks of wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and cough. Factors that can trigger an asthma attack include allergens (such as pet dander, dust mites, mold, pollens and food allergies), secondhand tobacco smoke, air pollution, exercise, strong odors and cold weather. Asthma is not contagious, but anyone can have asthma at any age.

Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States, affecting more than 20 million adults and more than 6 million children. Annually, asthma accounts for 14.7 million missed school days for children and 24.5 million missed work days for adults. In Kentucky, 10.6 percent of children 11 years of age and younger, 13.6 percent of middle school students, 11.8 percent of high school students and 18.6 percent of adults have asthma. While asthma can affect anyone at any age, it is more common among blacks. In Kentucky, 13.9 percent of blacks have asthma compared to 8.2 percent of whites. Additionally, blacks are two times more likely to die from asthma-related illness than whites.

There is no known cure for asthma, but it can be controlled. People with asthma can lead full, active lives with proper education, treatment and management. The successful management of asthma includes the following four important actions:

  • Visit your doctor regularly
  • Use long-term controller medications and fast-acting rescue medications appropriately
  • Avoid asthma triggers
  • Work with your doctor to develop and use a written management and action plan

The successful management and control of a person's asthma will result in better quality of life, decreased asthma attacks, fewer visits to the emergency room, fewer hospitalizations and fewer missed school or work days.

State Honor Roll of Asthma and Allergy Policies

The State Honor Roll of Asthma and Allergy Policies for schools is an annual research project of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to identify states with the most comprehensive and preferred statewide public policies supporting people with asthma, food allergies, anaphylaxis risk and related allergic diseases in U.S. elementary, middle and high schools. The goal of this report is to identify state-level progress towards better school-based policies and provide a blueprint for asthma and allergy advocates nationwide.

Self-Paced Modules for Clinicians

Asthma Management and Education Online

This course recognizes the critical role allied health professionals play in educating and caring for patients with asthma. Course content conforms with the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (NAEPP) 2007 Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. The Asthma Management and Education course is structured around NAEPP’s four components of asthma management. Allied health professionals who complete the course will expand their knowledge of these four components which include: information on assessment and monitoring, control of environmental factors, pharmacologic management and patient education. 

This program contains 12 self-paced study modules. Upon completion of the full course, nurses and respiratory therapists will be eligible to earn seven continuing education credits from the American Nurses Credentialing Center Commission on Accreditation and the American Association for Respiratory Care. 

This program is offered free by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America



Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit Training Module

This online training was developed for pediatric health care providers, health educators and other health professionals interested in environmental health anticipatory guidance for pediatric patients and their parents or guardians. This interactive Web-based module introduces users to the basics of environmental health and explains the purpose and best use of toolkit materials. It offers health care providers detailed examples about how to best deliver anticipatory guidance on a range of environmental health issues, especially during well-child visits.

ATSDR and the pediatric environmental health specialty units (PEHSUs)it sponsors are committed to protecting children from environmental health threats. This commitment propelled ATSDR Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine, the Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and the University of California-San Francisco PEHSU to develop an environmental health anticipatory guidance training module.

This training module is based on PSR PEHT, which has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It will introduce users to environmental health, instruct pediatric health care providers in the use of the toolkit and discuss the best methods for delivering environmental health anticipatory guidance in the clinical setting.

Access the program, offered free by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Last Updated 3/9/2018