Asthma Awareness Month
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has named May to be Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month since 1984. Given that asthma and allergies are sometimes related, we’ll be focusing on asthma below.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that can affect your airways. It can cause your airways to swell or produce extra mucus when you inhale allergens such as pollen, dust, or pet dander.
For some people with asthma, their condition never goes beyond a minor annoyance. However, many others may experience life-threatening asthma attacks if an allergen triggers their asthma.
Unfortunately, asthma has no cure. However, people can keep their asthma under control with small inhalers that deliver medication to the airways that help with the symptoms.
Asthma Fast Facts
Nearly 25 million people in the US suffer from asthma, about ⅓ of the entire US population. About 20 million of those people are adults or 8% of all adults in the US.
The remaining 5 million people with asthma are children, making up about 7% of all children in the US. In fact, asthma is the leading chronic disease that affects children.
In children, Asthma is more common in boys than in girls. However, adult women more frequently have asthma than adult men.
Asthma cases can vary between individuals. As mentioned, some people may only feel minor symptoms, while others might be at risk of severe attacks.
Regardless, here are some typical asthma symptoms:
● Coughing/wheezing that worsens with respiratory viruses
● Wheezing when exhaling (common in children with asthma)
● Chest pain/tightness
● Shortness of breath
● Trouble sleeping caused by the aforementioned symptoms
There are also some situational forms of asthma, causing the symptoms to flare up only during certain activities.
● Allergy-induced asthma: Airborne substances, such as pollen, dust, or pet dander can trigger this form of asthma.
● Exercise-induced asthma: Vigorous exercise can trigger asthma in some individuals. Cold and dry air can make this worse.
● Occupational asthma: Asthma that is triggered by substances you may come into contact within the workplace. such as fumes or gases.
How to Live Better With Asthma
Individuals with asthma can still live full, fulfilling lives while managing their asthma. However, given the range of types and medicines available, one should work with their doctor to develop a treatment plan for them.
Some elements of this plan might include:
● How to recognize and handle an asthma attack
● Which medicines or inhalers to use
● How to identify and avoid potential irritants
● Who to contact in case of emergency
● When to call your doctor vs. go to an emergency room