Section: Saint Barnabas Medical Center News

Think You Know Your Asthma? Asthma is a Lifelong, Chronic Disease for Which There is No Cure.


Asthma is a lifelong, chronic disease for which there is no cure.

Asthma is a lifelong, chronic disease for which there is no cure, but that doesn’t mean asthma patients need to suffer. On the contrary, the condition is generally well controlled with medications and lifestyle changes, and those who follow their “asthma action plan” can live healthy, unimpeded lives.

The key, though, is following that plan. Sadly, too many asthma patients don’t. But now Saint Barnabas Medical Center offers free education and support for asthma patients through its asthma education center.

“We are finding that many adults who have asthma don’t understand their disease and how to treat it—and they end up in the hospital,” says Linda Hardy, a respiratory therapist and certified asthma educator at the medical center. “Our goal is to prevent hospitalizations and to help patients live symptom-free, so they can enjoy a better quality of life.”

Consultations are available in both one-on-one and group settings, either in the hospital or as an outpatient service. “For inpatients, we offer asthma assessment, education and support, and they can return as outpatients for further education and support,” Hardy says.

That outpatient follow-up is especially helpful. “Often, people with asthma can feel overwhelmed,” she says. “There are so many different medications. Patients confuse daily controller medications with the rescue medications they need for an asthma attack. They forget how to use their action plan, and resort to rescue meds too often, which means their asthma is not in control.”

Hardy and other asthma educators appear at community events and health fairs throughout the year. “We go to schools, senior centers, community centers like the JCC—any event we’re invited to,” she says. The certified educators cover everything patients need to know, including how to assess symptoms, how to recognize and avoid things in the environment that can trigger an asthma attack, how asthma affects daily life, and how to use a peak-flow meter and various medications to control their condition.

Even patients who have been dealing with asthma for a long time can learn something new. “There are now lots of free digital apps for finding out pollen counts and other things that people may not be aware of, things that can help them manage their disease more easily,” Hardy says. “And there are many new medications, including some that need to be taken only once a day. Many patients used to need meds twice a day; once a day makes it much easier to be compliant. People who have had asthma for many years may learn at least one new thing, and that can make all the difference.

To find out more about asthma education services at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, please call 973.322.5092.

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