As a professional singer and actress, Kristin Chenoweth doesn’t have time to deal with asthma. But, like one in 10 Oklahomans, she doesn’t have a choice. Asthma is something the Oklahoma native has been living with for the past decade, the actress recently announced.
When an asthma attack comes on, Chenoweth’s airways can narrow so much that not enough oxygen can get into her blood and vital organs. In very severe attacks, asthma can be life threatening, according to The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Chenoweth always carries an asthma inhaler, just in case.
“I count on my rescue inhaler with a dose counter to help me keep track of my remaining doses,” Chenoweth said in a news release.
Chenoweth has teamed up with asthma foundation and Teva Respiratory as the spokeswoman for a national awareness campaign — “Know Your Count” — which is aimed at educating asthma patients and caregivers about the importance of keeping track of the remaining doses in their rescue inhalers.
“Around 9/11, I began to suffer with not being able to get my breath, (I had) chronic chest colds that turned into walking pneumonia,” Chenoweth said on a recent episode of the TV show “The Doctors.”
“Finally, I went to the doctor in Oklahoma, I was visiting my parents,” she said. “My mom said ‘You’re wheezing and coughing all the time. You’re not yourself.’”
So Chenoweth saw a doctor who prescribed her a rescue inhaler, which usually helped, she said.
But sometimes, she’d wonder why the inhaler didn’t seem to help her asthma attacks.
“When I first started, I was like ‘Why isn’t it working?’ It’s because you’re out, you idiot,” she joked.
“You’ve got to watch it.”
Children and adults with asthma need to rely on a rescue (or “quick relief”) inhaler during an attack, so having enough medication in an inhaler when they need it is critical, the asthma foundation states.
In Oklahoma, almost half a million people have been diagnosed with asthma at some time in their lives, and respiratory diseases including asthma are the third most common cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In fact, the asthma foundation ranked Oklahoma City as an “Asthma Capital” for 2013— the fifth worst city in the country for asthma. Prevalence in Oklahoma County is about 10 percent— nationally it’s about 8.8 percent.
Factors playing into this, according to the asthma foundation, may be the high allergen ratings Oklahoma consistently contends with, the fact that smoking is still more prevalent in Oklahoma than in most states, Oklahoma’s high poverty rate and lower-than-average uninsured rate.
Watch for a public service announcement on television featuring Chenoweth. To watch the announcement, go online to www.KnowYourCount.com.
Chenoweth recently completed several film projects, including Universal’s “The Boy Next Door” alongside Jennifer Lopez. This spring, Chenoweth will be seen in “Rio 2,” voicing the character of Gaby. In addition to her on-screen performances, Chenoweth continues to tour across the U.S. In May, she will return to the famed Carnegie Hall for the first time since her sold-out solo debut in 2004.