May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness month. While you often hear about allergies this time of the year, it is still vital to learn about asthma! Did you know that 18.7 million adults and 6.8 million children in the U.S. have asthma? That equates to 8% of adults and 9.3% of children in the U.S are affected by asthma. The majority of those with asthma have an allergic component meaning that animal dander, mold, dust or pollens triggers asthma symptoms. Many are also triggered by smoke, perfumes and weather changes. If your asthma symptoms are worse this time of year it is likely that you also have tree pollen allergy that is triggering symptoms. Often the symptoms are worse when exposed to the trigger, however, a delayed response is also likely. Everyone has a natural anti-inflammatory agent in his or her body that decreases in quantity and reaches a low around 3 a.m. This is why some people will notice worsening nighttime symptoms.
The main symptoms of asthma are:
1) A sensation that there is tightness in your chest, often described as a feeling that an elephant is sitting on your chest.
2) Frequent coughing, wheezing (a whistling sound) when breathing out.
3) A sensation that you are not able to take full breaths.
To be labeled as asthmatic you don’t need all of these symptoms and the symptoms can be related to many other things besides asthma. If you are suspicious you have asthma, your best bet is to get checked! A thorough lung exam and often breathing tests that are easily done in the office can be conducted.
Even though there are much better ways to diagnose and treat asthma these days, the fact of the matter is it is still a deadly disease. Though asthmatics are far more likely to die of something else, asthma still kills about 3,500 people in the U.S. every year. Helping raise awareness of this disease will hopefully lower this number. Don’t become a statistic! Increase your awareness, help spread the word and please get checked if you think you may have asthma.
If you have any other general questions feel free to leave a comment below, ask via email or visit my facebook page and post on our wall.
And...don't forget...May 10th-16th is Food Allergy Awareness Week. Come back to my blog next week, as I will be discussing food allergies in greater depth and tips for traveling with food allergies.