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May is Asthma Awareness Month

05/16/2013
May is Asthma Awareness Month
Asthma continues to be a serious public health problem, disrupting normal daily activities and keeping people out of work and school. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 25.9 million people, including 7.1 million children, have asthma, and it is increasing every year. That’s why the Allentown Health Bureau is joining the CDC and the Environmental Protection Agency in recognizing May as Asthma Awareness Month.

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects the airways in the lungs. Asthma symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath or trouble breathing, wheezing and tightness or pain in the chest. During an asthma attack, airways become inflamed, making it hard to breathe. Asthma attacks can be mild, moderate, or serious – and even life threatening.

It is not known for sure what causes asthma, but we do know that attacks are sometimes caused by environmental factors. These factors, called triggers, can include: allergens like pollen, mold and dust mites; tobacco smoke and other air contaminants such as pesticides; over exertion during exercise; and other respiratory illnesses such as a cold or the flu.

“There is no cure for asthma, but asthma attacks and symptoms can be managed by avoiding triggers, and seeking proper medical care. Parents especially need to be able to recognize and eliminate triggers in their home to lessen the impact of environmental factors on their children that have asthma,” according to Vicky Kistler, Director of the Allentown Health Bureau.

Medical treatment for asthma often includes inhaled corticosteroids and other prescribed daily long-term control medicines. The best control is often achieved by following a personal asthma action plan that can be created in consultation with a doctor.

Quick Asthma Facts
• Asthma accounts for 15 million physician office and hospital outpatient visits, and 2 million emergency visits each year
• 10.5 million school days are missed each year due to asthma
• The estimated economic cost for medical treatment and lost school and work days is more than $56 billion annually
• The greatest increase in asthma rates was among African-American children, nearly a 50% increase from 2001 to 2009
• Asthma was linked to 3,447 deaths in 2007

Allentown residents that have questions about asthma triggers can contact the Allentown Health Bureau at 610-437-7759. Your doctor should be consulted for questions about medication and a personal asthma action plan.

Additional asthma information can be found at www.epa.gov/asthma or www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/asthma.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control; Environmental Protection Agency
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