MSU Doctors Offer Solutions To Help Patients Manage Asthma

June 2, 2019



The late arrival of spring in the Midwest is bad news for those who suffer from allergies. The prolonged winter means everything is now blooming at once, creating a perfect storm of pollen. Pollen is one of the many triggers for people with asthma, which is why MSU HealthTeam is pushing to educate the community about asthma, how to recognize the signs and symptoms and how MSU HealthTeam can help manage your asthma. 

Asthma is a disease affecting the lungs, causing the airway to narrow and swell and produce extra mucus. This can cause difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Patients with asthma may experience shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, a whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling and coughing or wheezing attacks made worse by allergy triggers, irritants or respiratory viruses that cause colds or flu.


In Michigan, there are approximately 900,000 people with asthma: about 600,000 are adults and 300,000 are children. Asthma can appear later in life, sometimes triggered by surroundings. For many adults, asthma symptoms are induced by exercise, the workplace or allergies.

Approximately 15 percent of asthma cases are work-related, meaning chemicals or fumes found in the work environment can give people asthma. Some of the common causes are isocyanate chemicals found in spray paint, insulation, manufacturing plastics, rubber and foam, cleaning agents, welding fumes and animals.

As previously mentioned, allergies can be a major trigger for people with asthma. Common outdoor allergy irritants include pollen, mold, cold air and air pollution. Patients should work with their doctor to find out what causes or worsens their asthma and take steps to avoid it.

Asthma is responsible for about 120 deaths per year in Michigan and accounts for a quarter of all emergency room visits. There is no cure for asthma, but there are ways to manage your asthma by knowing what triggers it and develop a plan with you doctor to live with it.

If you think you might have asthma, you can contact your MSU HealthTeam Primary Care provider. They will ask you about your concerns and if further care if necessary, they could refer you to a specialist.


To diagnose asthma, your provider will discuss your medical history and likely perform a physical exam and lung function test. They may also perform a chest x-ray. Your provider could also prescribe a trial with asthma medication to see if it helps.

Asthma is a chronic condition and if patients are prescribed a maintenance inhaler, they need to take the maintenance inhaler every day. If they use their rescue inhaler more

than twice a week or are waking up at night to use an inhaler, their asthma is likely not well controlled and should be discussed with their health care provider

Automatic Refill Services

If medications are prescribed, patients are encouraged to enroll in SyncRX, a program offered by MSU Pharmacy. MSU Pharmacies are striving to increase the odds that medications will be taken as prescribed by working with insurance plans to offer MSU patients a service that synchronizes medication refill dates. When medications must be refilled at different times of the month, people are more likely to miss a dose and may need to travel up to four times a month to pick up the prescriptions from the pharmacy. With SyncRx, patients take fewer trips to the pharmacy, keeping them on their prescription schedule while saving them time and money.

Each month or every 90 days, the pharmacy reviews patient profiles in advance to ensure refills are available on prescriptions, resolves any insurance issues and makes sure the medications are in stock. When it’s time for medications to be filled, they’re prepared and patients notified to pick them up. However, not all medications are eligible for the synchronization program. As-needed drugs for pain or medications such as antibiotics, designed for only short-term use, are excluded. Other products, such as inhalers or eye-drops, might not be available for partial fills. This program works most efficiently with chronic medical conditions that require consistent prescriptions every month. For more information about SyncRx and how to enroll, contact a pharmacy staff member.

        · Clinical Center Pharmacy: (517) 353-4930

        · Olin Pharmacy: (517) 353-9165

To schedule an appointment with the Allergy and Immunology Clinic or the Pediatric Pulmonology Clinic, talk to your doctor about how to get a referral or call (517) 884-8600 for more information.

 If you think you might have work-place asthma and need help managing your symptoms, talk to your doctor about getting a referral to the Occupational and Environmental Medicine or call (517) 353-4830 for more information.