Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month

Awareness is the first step to understanding and breathing easier.

May 17, 2016

Spring is here! Time to head outdoors, enjoy the sunshine and the beauty of the season. But spring - unfortunately - is also a season where asthma and allergies take center stage for many children.

That’s why May is National Asthma & Allergy Awareness Month, focusing on wellness for children and adults who suffer from these serious illnesses for which there is no cure. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has a whole calendar of events this month to help educate the public.

What is asthma? The American Lung Association defines asthma as “a chronic lung disease that makes it hard to move air into and out of your lungs.” And spring is a season ripe with triggers that can cause asthma to flare up.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 6.3 million children under the age of 18 suffered from asthma in 2014. The AAFA cites it as the leading chronic disease in children and the top reason for missed school days.

Each child is different, but triggers can include:

• Respiratory infections and colds
• Cigarette smoke (ALA reports asthma conditions can worsen for children who are exposed to secondhand smoke)
• Allergic reactions to allergens such as pollen, mold, animal dander, feather, dust, food and cockroaches
• Indoor and outdoor air pollutants, including ozone and particle pollution
• Exposure to cold air or sudden temperature change
• Excitement/stress
• Exercise

Although asthma-related deaths among children are rare, there is still a risk. For African American children, the death rate is 10 times that of non-Hispanic white children. It is the third leading cause of hospitalization with children, and African American children are four times more likely to be admitted to the hospital for asthma.

Overall, asthma is higher in children who are Puerto Rican, African American and American Indian/Alaska Native, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

While the statistics can seem scary, asthma is also an illness that can be controlled with proper management and planning. And we’ve found some great resources to learn more.

For parents who put their children in child care facilities, this handy checklist from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute provides a rundown of what to look out for to ensure the child’s environment is healthy.

If your child’s school does not have an asthma management plan, the institute also provides great resources for schools to help students manage asthma in the classroom and on the playground. These include a Managing Asthma guide overview; a checklist for schools; and information on asthma and physical activity in school.

And, of course, the CDC also has an extensive list of valuable tools and resources for learning about, controlling and preventing asthma and asthma-related attacks.

The most important thing to remember is that asthma doesn’t have to be a barrier to your child living a healthy and happy life. Asthma management is key.

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