For some, May in Cincinnati signals a return to sunshine, glorious spring flowers and a bright forecast divinely sent for the eradication of winter doldrums. But if you’re an asthma or allergy sufferer, May might feel like a time of constant suffering. May is also the month designated to create more awareness about how allergies and asthma affect millions in this country alone — and what that means to all of us.
What Is Asthma?
More than 26 million Americans suffer from asthma every year. But understanding the disease and your triggers can mean the difference between life and death.
Knowledge is power
Asthma is a lung disease that when met with irritants, causes swelling and constriction in the airways. Symptoms include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and tightness of the chest. Common irritants can include pollen, chemicals, significant changes in weather, dust mites, stress and even exercise. But don’t take this as your get-out-of-spin-class-free card. The best way to avoid an asthma attack is to know your triggers and to work with your doctor at Allergy and Asthma Care, Inc. to develop a plan that’s right for you, while still enjoying the things you love.
How Do I Know If I Have Allergies?
Asthma isn’t the only cause of suffering. In fact, nearly one in three adults and one in four children suffer from allergies. Allergies occur when the immune system reacts to a foreign substance. And just like with asthma, knowing your triggers is key. Common allergens can include pets, pollen and insects. Symptoms may be itchy or watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose or rash. To help with allergies, it’s better to avoid allergy triggers altogether. Or, you can improve your immune system through immunotherapy, rather than just take medicine to manage the symptoms.
How to help
Allergy or asthma attacks can be scary for the victim and the observer. Following a few key steps can make all the difference in the outcome.
- Find and assist in using a rescue inhaler.
- Loosen any restrictive clothing that might inhibit breathing.
- Be soothing. Offer words of encouragement in a neutral tone.
- Help to practice slow, deep breathing techniques
- Drive to the doctor or ER. Severe asthma attacks need to be treated.
- If the attack is severe, call 911.
How to Raise Awareness About Allergies & Asthma
Here is a list of awareness events scheduled through the month of May. (This information is from the AAFA, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.)
- May 4-8: Air Quality Awareness Week
- May 1-31: Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month – Asthma and allergic diseases impact over 60 million people in the U.S. This year, AAFA and the MedicAlert Foundation have teamed up to raise awareness about asthma and anaphylaxis. The goal of this partnership is to help you manage your conditions and prevent life-threatening medical emergencies.
- May 4: FPIES Awareness Day – We honor those with food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome.
- May 5: World Asthma Day
- May 5, 4 pm ET: Special book reading from AAFA’s youngest ambassador, Javan Allison. He’s reading his book, The Adventures of Javan and the 3 A’s #AsthmaSucks, live on Instagram and Facebook. Javan became an asthma advocate and AAFA ambassador when he nearly lost his life to asthma two years ago.
- May 10-16: Food Allergy Awareness Week (FAAW) – Nearly 6 million children and over 26 million adults in the U.S. have food allergies.
- May 17-23: Eosinophil Awareness Week – Learn more about eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE).
- Raise awareness on social media. The Allergy & Asthma Foundation of America has a great library of social media images that can be shared on any platform.
- Fundraise for AAFA. Raise funds online, ask your friends to donate via Facebook as your birthday wish, host an event (lemonade stand or virtual karaoke contest, anyone?), or participate in a local race or sporting event to raise money for the cause. Even though we’re all currently socially distanced, most of these events can be held virtually.
If you think you or your loved one might have untreated allergies or asthma, we’re here to help. This is the perfect time to make an appointment with one of our board certified allergists at one of our five locations.