May is Asthma Awareness Month, and chances are good that you or someone you know is affected by the chronic airway disorder.
The Centers for Disease Control earlier this month released its 2010 data findings in the report, Asthma’s Impact on the Nation. According to the CDC, 29 million adults have been diagnosed with asthma at some point in their lives and about 19 percent, or 1 in 12, still have it. In 2010, seven million, or 1 in 11 children had asthma.
Numbers released by the CDC show that asthma prevalence increased from 2001 through 2010 and is expected to keep climbing, especially for African American females, who on average are more often diagnosed with asthma. Death rates per 1,000 people with asthma were higher for African Americans, females and adults.
With air quality levels hovering between moderate and unhealthy for some individuals this week, now is a good time to ensure you’ll have healthy lungs for life.
Respiratory therapist Tyshaun Woodruff with Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth said it’s important for those with asthma to have regular check-ups with their primary doctor or pulmonary specialist to make sure asthma symptoms are well-controlled.
“Be on the right preventative medications,” Woodruff said. “And, know what your triggers are. Some asthmatics have problems with allergies, or pollen count. Asthma is a reactive airway disease, so if you are sneezing and coughing, that would make it flare up.”
Some asthma flare ups are called “exercised-induced.” Those with this type of asthma often have difficulties performing strenuous cardiovascular activities and should stick to things that don’t irritate their airways, Woodruff said.
He said he is seeing more adults than usual with respiratory problems, but there is an unusually high number of young children with asthma than what he’s seen in years past.
“A lot of times asthma is passed on through families,” he said. “And you can experience it as a child, then the symptoms go away. Sometimes the symptoms reappear, sometimes they don’t.”
He also said it’s possible for adults to experience “adult onset asthma,” with more severe symptoms than if they had experienced the disorder as a child.
Unfortunately, Woodruff said, there’s really no way to prevent asthma. It affects people no matter their age, race or background.
“You really can’t prevent, but you need to control,” he said.
For more information on asthma numbers and prevention, visit www.cdc.gov.