Allergies. If you have them, you know they’re not fun at all. In fact, you may have even dubbed spring to be your least favorite season because of the pollen alone. And for some individuals, along with allergies comes asthma – a lung disease that closes your lungs and makes it difficult or even impossible to breathe without medication.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has declared the month of May to be “National Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month” for a reason. This month has historically been a “peak season for asthma and allergy sufferers,” according to an article from AAFA. Due to the high amount of noticeable symptoms for these two diseases this month, many health organizations and individuals across the nation have taken time to educate and raise awareness for the battles that 24 million Americans fight against Allergies and Asthma.
Asthma symptoms range in severity.
According to an article on What Health, symptoms for asthma include “coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and a tightness in the chest.” In fact, “[s]evere asthma symptoms can begin with itching of the eyes and face, but soon progress to swelling, causing breathing difficulties, cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Confusion and dizziness are further symptoms of asthma.”
Asthma is a serious disease that can have a variety of triggers.
According to the Asthma Society of Canada, there are a variety of allergic triggers that can bring upon an asthma attack. Allergies can include pollen, air pollutants, dust mites, animals, etc. In addition, non-allergic triggers can cause an asthma attack, including smoke, exercise, cold air, chemicals, fumes, etc. It’s important to be aware of different asthma triggers. If people you know are allergic to certain substances that could cause an asthma attack, make sure you understand their triggers and needs in those moments.
Asthma attacks can severely impair an individual, especially children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “The number of reported missed school days among children with asthma was 12.4 million in 2003, 10.4 million in 2008, and 13.8 million in 2013.” However, the percent of children who missed school in 2013 compared to 2003 was significantly less, due to the growth in our population over the last 10 years.
Not everyone who has allergies has asthma, though.
According to an article from the AAFA, “Researchers think nasal allergies affect about 50 million people in the United States” and “[t]hey affect as many as 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children.”
There is no cure for allergies, but prevention and treatment are two ways you can manage your allergies, according to AAFA.
If you’re allergic to pollen, your body is rejecting the substance that is in the air, trees, and flowers during the spring. Many individuals also suffer from food allergies, preventing them from consuming or even being in close proximity to certain foods.
Allergy symptoms can range from a simple runny nose to hives, swelling, and rashes.
If you think you may be allergic to something, but don’t know what, it’s important to get tested to prevent allergy attacks. Treatment for allergies can range from a simple over-the-counter antihistamine to “immunotherapy”, a series of shots given frequently in the hopes of reducing your allergic reaction to a specific substance over time. The severity of allergies for each person will vary.
Many do not understand what it is like to manage these two diseases, which is why raising awareness is so imperative. It is important for all members in the community to be educated on these topics in order to better support and assist those who struggle.
Whether your family member needs help to remember their inhaler when spending time outside or whether we need to consider doing that BBQ indoors this month instead of outdoors with that friend with seasonal allergies, make conscious decisions to help improve the lives of others this May – you may not know how badly someone might be suffering from just taking a step outside.
If you’re struggling with allergies or asthma this May, know that your voice is heard. The YMCA partners with American Lung Association to prevent tobacco use and promote healthier air and lifestyles in the community, so that you can breathe better this spring and beyond.
– Emily Sanville, Digital Communications Coordinator