More than 26 million Americans live with asthma, which includes 6.2 million children. Although there is no cure, asthma can be managed and treated so that those with the condition can live normal, healthy lives, both indoors and outdoors.
May is Asthma Awareness Month and a great opportunity to learn more about common triggers – among which we have respiratory infections, allergens, irritants, exercise and emotions – as well as to better understand what causes their symptoms. For starters, the American Lung Association is offering the following tips.
- Fight allergens indoors. Animal dander, dust mites and mold are common indoor allergens that can cause asthma symptoms. Maintaining a clean home can help keep the presence of such allergens in check. For specific allergen cleaning tips, as well as strategies to reduce mold growth and dust mites in your home, visit Lung.org/asthma. Be forewarned: cleaning items that have odors and fragrances can cause asthma symptoms to sprout. Check the label and stick to safe and respectful asthma products.
- Avoid smoke and tobacco. It is known that any type of smoke, including tobacco smoke, as well as the smoke of electronic cigarettes or “vaping”, irritate the airways of the lung. If you have asthma, do not smoke and avoid being around people who do. If you need help to stop smoking, visit Lung.org/stop-smoking or call 1-800-LUNGUSA.
- Stay on top of time. Climate change increases the risk of air pollution getting worse. You should be aware that extreme weather events such as drought, floods, wildfires and tornadoes can create irritants and airborne allergens for people with asthma. Use the Air Quality Index found on the American Lung Association’s site to keep abreast of current conditions and help protect against outside air pollution. It is recommended that people suffering from asthma avoid going outdoors on days when the value of the air quality index is above 100 or in the orange, red, purple or coffee categories.
- Know your own triggers. Avoiding and controlling the triggers of your asthma begins with identifying them first. Work with your doctor to find out what allergens or irritants may be causing asthma symptoms; An allergy test can help. Together, you and your doctor can create an Asthma Action Plan that includes finding simple solutions to reduce your exposure to your asthma triggers and make it easier for you to breathe. You can learn more about your asthma and how to handle the triggers at Lung.org/asthma and through a free online one-hour interactive course at Lung.org/asthma-basics.
If you suffer from asthma or love someone who suffers, take steps to better understand the condition and reduce the presence of common triggers in your daily life.