Asthma in Michigan

Asthma is a serious life-long disease of the lungs that is caused by swelling (inflammation) in the airways. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be prevented and controlled with proper care. People with asthma can live normal, active lives. You can't outgrow asthma, though some people will stop having asthma symptoms as often as in the past. It may seem like they have outgrown it, but it isn't gone, it just isn't active, and could come back at any time.

Visit the Michigan Asthma Interventions page to learn how the MDHHS Asthma Program is helping people with asthma and the health professionals who care for them.

Some common symptoms of asthma:

  • coughing
  • shortness of breath
  • wheezing
  • tightness or heaviness in your chest

Asthma Triggers

People who have asthma have airways that are very twitchy or sensitive. The things that make symptoms start are called "triggers." Triggers make airways swell, tighten up, and make too much mucus. Each person can have different triggers. It's important to find out what your asthma triggers are and figure out ways to control them. Some common triggers:

  • upper respiratory infections (colds)
  • cigarette smoke, wood smoke
  • scented products such as hair spray, cosmetics, cleaners
  • pollution, pollen
  • dogs, cats, birds, or small rodents
  • house dust mites
  • molds
  • exercise
  • changes in weather and/or temperature

Asthma Control

If you or your child ...

  • Take your "quick-relief inhaler" more than two times a week
  • Awaken at night with asthma more than two times a month
  • Refill your "quick-relief inhaler" more than two times a year

... then your asthma may not be under control!

Asthma cannot be cured, but symptoms can be prevented and controlled by staying away from triggers and using medications the right way. With good asthma care and control, you should:

  • have an Asthma Action Plan that says what to do when feeling good and when symptoms get worse
  • have few or no symptoms of asthma
  • be able to take part in daily activities, including exercise or playing sports
  • have no time off from school or work due to asthma
  • sleep through the night without asthma symptoms
  • have no emergency room visits or stays in the hospital because of asthma
  • have few or no side effects from asthma medications
  • have normal or near normal lung function
  • have a partnership with your health care provider on meeting your goals for good asthma care

Seeing your doctor for regular asthma care is important. Use these tips to get more out of your doctor visit: doctor and child

  • Take a list of questions to ask your provider
  • Ask the doctor to tell you exactly what to do
  • If you are confused, ask the doctor to repeat the information in a different way or write it down for you
  • Tell your doctor or asthma educator what you want from each visit
  • Make an Asthma Action Plan with your health care provider and follow it
  • Don't agree to do something that you do not plan to do. Ask if there are other options. If your doctor doesn't know that a treatment plan is hard for you, they will not know to make changes.
  • Be sure to keep your doctor's appointments, even if you are feeling fine. If you can't make an appointment, contact your doctor in advance to set up another time

Emergency Signs

It's rare, but people do die from asthma, and these deaths can be prevented. Call your doctor, go to the hospital or call an ambulance if:

  • You are very short of breath, have trouble walking and talking
  • Your quick-relief medicines have not helped
  • Your peak flow is less than 50% of your best peak flow
  • Your lips or fingernails are blue

Learn More About Asthma

Michigan Asthma Surveillance, Data and Reports

For more information:
John Dowling
Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Control
517-335-9713
dowlingj@michigan.gov