Allergy and asthma season is back. Since 1984, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation has recognized May as “National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.” Over 65 million individuals in the U.S. have allergies and asthma. Unfortunately, there is no cure for allergies or asthma; however, these conditions can be managed with the appropriate treatment and prevention.
Asthma is a chronic illness that causes swelling and inflammation of the airways. This, in turn, causes the airways to narrow, which makes breathing harder. According to the CDC, about 1 in 13 individuals in the U.S. have asthma (approximately 25 million people). Asthma affects all ages but usually starts in childhood. Asthma symptoms include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. These symptoms can be triggered by various things such as allergens (e.g., pollen, dust, pet dander), cold air, exercise, infections, and tobacco smoke. If these symptoms become worse than usual, it is called an asthma attack. Asthma attacks can be life-threatening. In 2018, asthma led to more than 170,000 hospital stays and 1.6 million emergency department visits. Approximately 11 people in the U.S. die from asthma daily.