In the AAFA's Asthma Capitals 2018 Report, AAFA looked at eight risk factors that can affect asthma rates: poverty, lack of health insurance, poor air quality, pollen counts, long-term control medicine use, quick-relief medicine use, smoking laws and access to specialists.
One of the most important parts of managing asthma is working with a health care team. Together, you can create an asthma plan to keep your asthma under control. If you have asthma, you might need to see a specialist. Pulmonologists, allergists and immunologists can offer special care for people with asthma. They often have more experience treating patients with severe asthma than a primary care physician.
Access to proper medical care depends on many different factors. Health can depend on social, economic and insurance status. But how many specialists are in your area can also affect your health status.
Some areas may have fewer practicing specialists compared to others. The lack of nearby asthma specialists may be connected to poor asthma outcomes. If you need to be under the care of an asthma specialist, talk to your primary care doctor to see what options are nearby.
Living in an area where there are fewer specialists can mean traveling long distances for care. This can be a burden on personal finances and time, especially when frequent trips are needed. And it may take months to get an appointment.
The Morleys of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (overall #4 on Asthma Capitals), travel 45 minutes to visit their son’s allergist and pulmonologist. There are only a few in the Philadelphia area that treat children.
“It gets expensive paying for the gas and tolls to visit frequently when trying new treatments,” explains Joey Morley’s mother, Carlene.
Lynn Johnson of Birmingham, Alabama (overall #8 on Asthma Capitals), has had challenges just trying to make an appointment. “In the last one-and-a-half years I called every pulmonologist office in town,” Lynn states. “The shortest amount of time to get in was 11 months. I was told that if I had a problem in the meantime, I should go to the emergency room.”
Cites can help this issue by recruiting allergists and pulmonologists to work in their cities. States can help by forming a task force or asthma coalition to outline how to support asthma treatment in their states.