There are over 65 million people in the United States that are affected by asthma and allergies. Since 1984, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) declared May as “National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.” This time of year, is the peak season for individuals with these diseases to be affected the most. This makes it the perfect time to educate the public about the issues of these diseases.
In the US, there are about 25 million people who have asthma and almost 7 million of them are children. In 2010 alone, almost 13 million people reported having an asthma attack. This is over half of the total population of people with this condition. There is a higher incidence of asthma emergencies, hospitalizations, and death among African Americans and Puerto Ricans compared to Caucasians. With more education, the hope is that this will prompt people to be proactive and deal with symptoms early. This can improve the quality of life for those who suffer from these issues. Also, saving time and money on medications and hospitalizations.
Allergy symptoms can range in severity. The mild symptoms include congestion, itchy water eyes, and skin rashes. Moderate symptoms fall along the lines of itchiness and difficulties breathing.
With asthma, your symptoms can include wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath. When asthma complications become serious there is: faster breathing, a fast heartbeat, drowsiness, confusion, dizziness, and/ or exhaustion. There can also be blue lips or fingers and fainting.
In severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) the whole body is affected and shows symptoms of swelling of the throat and mouth, difficulty breathing, lightheadedness, confusion, blue skin or lips, and collapsing/ losing consciousness. Both of these events can be life threatening and require immediate medical treatment.
This awareness month is meant to educate the public more about asthma and allergy triggers which bring on symptoms and cause medical problems. Some major environmental triggers for asthma are passive smoking, mold, pet hair, cockroaches, and dust mites. For allergies in this season, airborne allergens (pollen, animal dander, dust mites) and insect stings (from a bee or wasp) are common and can cause problems.
With adequate medical treatment and awareness, these environmental triggers can be controlled to some degree and can still allow individuals suffering from these diseases to live healthy, active lifestyles.