Tag Archives: asthma

May is National Asthma & Allergy Awareness Month

More than 60 million Americans have asthma and allergies!  About 1 in 12 children younger than 18 years old are affected.  Although there is no cure for asthma, the best way to manage asthma is to avoid triggers, take medicine to prevent symptoms, and prepare to treat attacks.

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
  • Air pollution
  • Airway infections

SC Asthma stats

According to the found in children, as well as the leading cause of hospitalizations among children.  There was a 56% decrease in the asthma hospitalization rate among children five years of age and younger.  The asthma hospitalization rate was over four times higher among African-Americans and Other children (19.3 per 10,000) compared to White children (4.5 per 10,000).

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

Get Your Flu Vaccine Now. Protect Yourself. Your Family. And Your Community.

It’s flu season again. It’s recommended that you get your flu vaccine now, before the flu virus begins spreading in our community. Last year’s flu season was one of the worst we’ve seen in recent years, with a high number of deaths and hospitalizations here in South Carolina and across the nation.

Flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu. Some people are more likely to get serious complications from the flu, such as pneumonia or blood infections. This includes infants and young children, older adults, pregnant women and anyone with chronic medical conditions like asthma, heart or lung disease and diabetes. By getting your flu vaccine, it helps to protect yourself and those around you!

Everyone 6 months and older should get vaccinated every flu season. Each season a new flu vaccine is made to protect against the flu viruses for the upcoming season.

Flu vaccines are available now at all county health departments. Go to http://scdhec.gov/flu/FluClinics/ to find the location closest to you. There are programs that provide no- or low-cost flu vaccines for eligible children and adults. Call 1-855-472-3432 to make an appointment.

To find a non-DHEC flu vaccine provider, go to http://vaccinefinder.org/ to search for the location closest to you, or talk to your health care provider.

DHEC in the News: Oysters recalled, Alzheimer’s, pollen

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

DHEC recalling Charleston County oysters harvested during sewage leak

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Health officials in South Carolina have ordered a recall of oysters harvested where a sewage spill occurred last month.

Black Americans are twice as likely to get Alzheimer’s. Vernon Williams was one of the unlucky ones

Vernon Williams had begun to forget little things. He would begin driving, only to realize he couldn’t remember how to get to where he was going. Trips to the refrigerator ended in frustration. After church, people he had known for years greeted him. But he couldn’t recall their names.

“I just couldn’t remember exactly,” he said.

He wasn’t even thinking about Alzheimer’s disease then. Now, it’s his reality. Williams, 84, began to notice the early signs of the disease about two years ago.

General Interest
With pollen out in full force, Charleston allergy experts offer tips to mitigate your symptoms

That yellow film covering every conceivable outdoor surface signals two truths: Spring is right around the corner and pollen allergy sufferers are miserable.

It’s not just your imagination, there’s a lot of pollen out there. In fact, “the current pollen count is between the ‘high’ and ‘very high’ range,” according to a statement published Tuesday by Charleston Allergy and Asthma.

Three local allergists offer answers about the best allergy medicines, how genetics play a role in seasonal allergies and, perhaps most importantly, when we can expect all this pollen to disappear.

It’s Air Quality Awareness Week. Be Air Aware.

This is Air Quality Awareness Week, a great time to learn how air quality affects your health. Topics for this week, which runs May 1-5, include:

  • wildfires
  • asthma and air quality
  • air quality trends
  • air quality around the world
  • citizen science

Wildfires

Wildfires cause major air quality issues as they emit harmful gases and particles.  Wildfire smoke can travel thousands of miles. The South Atlantic region, including the Carolinas, experiences the most wildfires, about three times the national average. South Carolina Forestry Commission firefighters respond to about 3,000 wildfires annually. In October 2016, a series of wildfires began in the Southern Appalachians, and continued into early December.

To protect your health during a wildfire stay indoors with windows closed, put air conditioners on “recirculate” mode, and pay attention to air quality reports via local media.

Did you know? Controlled fires, managed by skilled professionals, can greatly reduce the chance of a damaging wildfire.   

Asthma and Air Quality

Asthma is a long-term condition affecting the lungs/respiratory system and making it difficult to breathe. In 2013, 400,000 South Carolinians — including 100,000 children — suffered from asthma. Air pollutants, such as particulate matter and ozone, can exacerbate asthma symptoms.  Visit DHEC’s ozone forecast page or sign up to receive air quality alerts from Enviroflash.

Check out DHEC’s Environmental Public Health Tracking tool to find more information on how asthma and air quality affect South Carolinians. The EPA also has information available on Asthma and Outdoor Air Pollution.

Air Quality Trends

Historically, as sources of air pollution have increased — coal burning, factories, automobiles, power plants — air quality has declined. However, in the United States, beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s, air quality has improved while the GDP, population, vehicle miles traveled and energy usage has increased. How is this possible? The Clean Air Act. Learn more about air quality trends across the US in this interactive trend report on Our Nation’s Air.

 Air Quality Around the World

 While air quality in the US has improved since the passage of the Clean Air Act, many cities and areas across the globe continue to struggle with air quality problems. Issues include wind-blown smoke and dust, vehicle emissions and industrial pollution. See the presentation Air Quality Around the World for examples of global air quality challenges and some novel strategies for addressing air pollution.

 Citizen Science 

 Citizen science refers to research collaborations between professional scientists and citizen volunteers.  Citizen science projects can engage citizens in data collection and analysis in their communities. EPA’s “Village Green” project, for example, uses wind- and solar-powered park benches to collect minute-to-minute air measurements for ozone, particle pollution and weather conditions.

Lichens and mosses can be an indicator of air quality health. US federal agencies have been monitoring lichen health on federal lands since the early 2000s, and recently more citizens have been becoming involved in monitoring efforts. Programs like Michigan Tech’s “Mobile Environmental Citizen Science” and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “Citizen Science Central,” also show how citizen science can contribute.

Make checking the ozone forecast part of your data collection, and feel free to download and use our desktop Air Quality Forecast signs.

You Can Control Your Asthma

By Betsy Crick

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May is Asthma Awareness Month – one of the most common lifelong chronic diseases. One in 14 Americans lives with asthma, a disease affecting the lungs, causing repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing.  Asthma costs the United States about $56 billion each year.

Asthma in South Carolina

Children, young adults and older adults suffer from asthma.  South Carolina 2013 data shows that:

  • About 311,539 adults and 102,440 children suffer from asthma
  • 5,219 hospitalizations were for asthma – and children accounted for 28% of those hospitalizations
  • 61 South Carolinians died from asthma

Learn How to Control your Asthma

Although asthma cannot be cured, it is possible to manage asthma successfully to reduce and prevent asthma attacks. Successful asthma management includes knowing the warning signs of an attack, avoiding things that may trigger an attack, and following the advice of your healthcare provider.

Use your asthma medicine as prescribed and be aware of common triggers in the environment known to bring on asthma symptoms, including smoke (including second-hand and third-hand cigarette smoke), household pets, dust mites, and pollen. According to the Surgeon General, children with asthma exposed to tobacco smoke experience more frequent and severe asthma attacks.

For more information on asthma, please visit our website.