May is National Asthma & Allergy Awareness Month

Nearly 26 million people have asthma in the United States. Although there is no cure for asthma, it can be controlled by avoiding triggers, taking medicine to prevent symptoms, and being prepared to treat asthma episodes.

Asthma is the second leading cause of hospitalizations among children, according to the most recent data from 2019.

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the airways in the lungs.  During an asthma attack, airways become inflamed, making it hard to breathe.  Asthma attacks can be mild, moderate, or very serious.

Symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness or pain in the chest

Asthma attacks are triggered by:

  • Allergens (like pollen, mold, dust mites, and animals)
  • Exercise
  • Occupational hazards
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Outdoor Air pollution
  • Airway infections

Actions you can take to reduce exposure:

 Second-Hand Smoke

  • Don’t let anyone smoke near your child or in your home.
  • If you smoke — until you can quit, don’t smoke in your home or car.
  • Keep yourself and your children away form places that are not smoke free.
  • If you need help quitting smoking, ask your doctor for ways to help you.

Dust Mites

  • Wash bedding in hot water once a week, and dry completely.
  • Use dust proof covers on pillows and mattresses.
  • Vacuum carpets and furniture every week.
  • Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter on carpet and fabric-covered furniture to reduce dust build-up.

  Mold

  • Clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
  • Use exhaust fans or open a window in the bathroom and kitchen when showering, cooking or washing dishes.
  • Fix water leaks as soon as possible to keep mold from growing.
  • Maintain low indoor humidity, ideally between 30-50% relative humidity..

Outdoor Air pollution

  • Know the air quality forecast and index for your area.
  • Schedule outdoor activities at times when the air quality is better. In the summer, this may be in the morning.
  • Stay inside with the windows closed on high pollen days and when pollutants are high.
  • Use a portable air cleaner or high-efficiency furnace or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to reduce the level of fine particles from the air inside your home.

For more information about asthma and allergies, visit https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/.

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