According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of asthma cases has doubled in the U.S. since 1980, and 1 in 10 children are now affected.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes shortness of breath and wheezing due to inflamed and swollen airways. Certain inhaled substances can trigger episodes of inflammation, known as asthma attacks.
Sometimes asthma flare-ups are mild and go away with time or after minimal treatment with asthma medicine. Other times, sever attacks can be fatal if emergency care is not delivered.
Asthma typically develops during childhood, and it is the most prevalent chronic childhood disease, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. It also is the leading case of school absenteeism, as well as child hospitalizations and emergency room visits.
Air pollution is generally considered the main culprit for the increasing number and severity of asthma cases. Emissions from coal-fired power plants, boilers and car tailpipes can trigger asthma attacks, particularly in young children and the elderly.
In addition, some researchers believe higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are responsible for record high pollen counts in springtime that cause dangerous conditions for asthma and allergies.
If someone in your home has asthma, these tips can reduce the chance of flare-ups.
- Remove carpets from bedrooms or vacuum weekly with a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA air filter.
- Don’t use harsh household cleaners with strong fumes.
- If you must have pets, keep them out of bedrooms and off furniture, where their dander collects.
- Reduce the buildup of moisture and mold in your home by running the bathroom vent during and after showers and/or using and dehumidifier.
- Use Allergy-proof covers on pillows and mattresses and wash bedding weekly.
- If your child suffers from asthma, wash favorite stuffed animals on a regular basis.
- Don’t let anyone smoke in your home and keep people with asthma away from smoky environments.
- Limit outdoor activities during extremely hot weather, pollen season or when air pollution alerts have been issued.
- Exercise is important, but will often need to occur indoors.
- Avoid stress. Strong emotions and worry are known to trigger asthma attacks.
- Make sure teachers, school nurses, coaches, friends and co-workers are informed about asthma and know what to do, if an attack occurs.
- Always keep emergency asthma medications on hand.
- Always know the location of the nearest emergency room, whether you are at home or travelling.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Asthma