May is Asthma Awareness Month

May is ASTHMA awareness month because there has been an alarming increase in cases
across the nation. The latest CDC statistics report that Asthma affects more than 25.9
million people of all ages and races (7.1 million children) in this nation yet public
awareness of common Asthma triggers and effective Asthma management strategies
remains limited. Asthma prevalence is higher among lower socio-economic groups.
Asthma accounts for more than 15 million office visits and 2 million ER visits annually.
Asthma is THE most common serious chronic disease of Childhood and is the 3rd ranking
cause of hospitalizations among children under 15 years old. An average of one in every 10
school-aged children nationally has Asthma and in certain LI communities that rate is one
in 8 with many associated school-absences. The annual estimated economic cost of Asthma
is in the many billions. There are known indoor and outdoor environmental factors, which
trigger an Asthma attack. Knowing what those triggers are and avoiding them can lessen
attacks. The most important message is that Asthma CAN BE controlled. Having a medical
treatment plan (called an Asthma Action Plan or AAP) can prevent ER visits and
hospitalizations.

The two most common misunderstandings are that 1) once feeling better, medicine may no
longer be needed and 2) not knowing what environmental factors trigger an Asthma attack
leaves one a victim of those triggers. The main objective with Asthma management is to
achieve CONTROL. Responding to the medicine misunderstanding, there are two types of
Asthma medicines: 1) CONTROLLERS which are used just for that purpose, to control the
Asthma symptoms even when feeling well during one’s “trigger” seasons and 2) the RAPID
RELIEF/RESCUE medicines which address only Asthma attacks. If the Rapid Relief
(Albuterol) medicines are used more than 2 times in a week while awake or are needed
more than 2 times per month because of night awakening, then this level of use indicates
that your Asthma is NoT well-controlled. When Asthma is not well-controlled then the risk
of severity increases because the airway swelling is worsening and stronger additional
medicines may be needed to get control quickly before a hospitalization is necessary.
As for learning about triggers, allergy testing can give more information. Additionally,
there is a free ALA (American Lung Association) phone app called STATE OF THE AIR which
will inform daily, based upon the zip code entered, which triggers and at what levels they
are in your location. There are many FREE educational materials available from both the
EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) in
several languages.

The great news is that Asthma is a very controllable chronic illness and doesn’t have to
disable or sideline anyone IF managed early in life. There are many olympic and even
professional athletes who have persistent or intermittent Asthma yet they are champions.
If Asthma is allowed to progress unmanaged, it can lead to a form of chronic lung disease
which IS disabling. Learn more to get CONTROL of your ASTHMA.

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