Asthma Rates Increasing in Utah

The pristine winter and beautiful spring of Utah may take our breath away; but the Utah environment can make it harder to breathe.
Grant Potter said, “When the air gets bad, I know I’m going to have breathing issues.”
Grant is a Salt Lake City resident who has had asthma all of his life.
He explained, “I can tell you having an asthma attack is not fun.  You take as many deep breaths as you can, but you can’t get any oxygen.”
Grant knows when Spring allergies arrive and our Inversion sets in, he has to be ready. He said, “I have an inhaler in my ski bag, I have an inhaler in my coat, I have an inhaler in my work bag, I have an inhaler in a car and in my bathroom at home.  You never know when you’re going to need it.”
Grant isn’t alone. 
The state of Utah has higher rates of asthma compared to most of the country.
Dr. Douglas H. Jones explained, “Asthma rates in Utah are just slightly above the national average.”
Here’s the breakdown of numbers for Asthma in Utah.
1 in 11 Utah adults has asthma.  That is 9% of the population.
Every Utah classroom will have two children with asthma, that ends up 7% of Utah’s Kids have severe problems breathing.
For the country, the number for Adults with asthma is 7.6%.
It might not be by much, but Utahans definitely have a harder time breathing.
Brittany Guerra said, “The cause of asthma is not very well understood.”
Guerra works with the State Health Department and their Utah Asthma Program, while asthma itself isn’t completely understood she explained; there is no doubt living in Utah can be tough on asthma sufferers.
Dr. Douglas H. Jones has been helping people breathe easier in Utah for years, he knows being here can make things difficult.
Dr. Jones explained, “Some of the factors and unique things to utah in regard to asthma … We live in a dry climate, our air is not very clean, we live in a high elevation … And our lungs want warm clean humidified air and we are the opposite of that>
Dr. Jeffrey Abel is a pulmonary and critical care doctor in Salt Lake City.  He has also seen the impact being in Utah can make on people’s asthma and breathing issues.
Dr. Abel pointed out, “Our state is harder on people with allergies and asthma than a lot of people would guess.”
We know there’s a problem, but what do we do about it?
Dr. Jones said it is all about what triggers your own problem.  He said, “We look at some of the triggers, try to eliminate those triggers, minimize those and there are great medications we can use to treat asthma.”
And for Dr. Abel, he believes cleaning Utah’s air is necessary, he said, “You hear about the orange, green and red.  To most of us that doesn’t mean anything.  But to the allergy and asthma sufferer – it does make a difference, they notice it.”
Each of us can take responsibility to be good stewards of the state and limit our contributions to the mess when the inversion takes hold.
As Potter said, “Every bit helps.”

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