Heat wreaks havoc on those with asthma

To the editor:

After just experiencing Wisconsin’s second major heat wave this summer, we should be reminded that heat is not only uncomfortable, it’s dangerous for people with asthma.

Heat is one of the key ingredients in ozone, thereby increasing the likelihood that ozone levels will reach unhealthy levels. Heat also creates dry, dusty conditions, leading to high levels of particle pollution.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that makes breathing difficult. Airways are often inflamed, and when an asthma trigger — anything from a change in temperature to dust, chemicals and smoke in the air — reaches those inflamed airways, extra mucus is created. This causes them to swell and the muscles around them to tighten. While asthma cannot be cured, it can be managed by avoiding triggers and using proper asthma medications. Having adequate health care that covers guidelines-based asthma treatments and services plays a vital role in making sure people with asthma can live a normal life.

Half of all kids with asthma in the United States get their health insurance coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. However, Wisconsin’s Medicaid program does not cover all components of guidelines-based asthma care and imposes barriers to care that make it harder for patients to access recommended medications and treatments. Wisconsin should fix this to ensure patients can access the treatments their physicians recommend as most appropriate for them.

Learn about Medicaid coverage in Wisconsin by visiting the Asthma Care Coverage Project.

Dona Wininsky

Director for advocacy, grassroots and patient engagement,

American Lung Association in Wisconsin,