New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

Health

Asthma Affects 20 Million People and Is Still Growing

According to the American Lung Association, each day 40,000 people miss school or work because of asthma. 30,000 people have an asthma attack and 11 will die as a result of asthma. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation states that an estimated 1 in 15 Americans suffer from asthma, making it one of the most common and expensive diseases our country is faced with. Many of the deaths associated with asthma are completely avoidable with the right care and treatment. Asthma is a condition that affects your lungs; your airways get blocked and it becomes very hard to breath. There are two types of asthma, allergic and non-allergic, half of the cases being allergic. Symptoms of asthma include wheezing and shortness of breath, often accompanied by chest pressure. Symptoms are often worse at night or early in the morning. Asthma usually starts during childhood and if one parent has asthma, their child has a33% chance of contracting the disease themselves. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed and treated so that you can live a normal and healthy life. While it is not exactly certain what causes asthma, there are ways you can prevent it from having a negative impact on your life. If you are diagnosed with asthma, you can prevent attacks by knowing what causes your symptoms, and removing things that may trigger your asthma. While triggers may differ from person to person, some common ones are weather, pollen, air pollution, exercise, respiratory infections, some medications and smoke. Smoke can be a huge trigger. Even if you don’t smoke yourself, being around someone who does can trigger an attack. Even emotions and stress can act as triggers in some people, so being able to manage stresses, both personal and work related, can greatly limit any attacks. Getting a yearly flu vaccination can also help to prevent any complications from asthma. Having asthma places you at a greater risk of getting things such as the flu and pneumonia.

As mentioned there is no cure for asthma but there are, however, many different treatment options. Everyone’s asthma is different and certain treatments work better for others. Treatments consist of medicines that reduce the swelling in your airways as well as ones that relax your airways, helping you to breathe much easier. There are others that prevent symptoms and are taken all of the time, even if you are feeling fine. Your doctor or primary care provider can greatly help you manage your asthma and ensure you live a normal and healthy life. The American Lung Association also has great resources on their website about asthma, as well as their Breath Well, Live Well program; a workshop that gives adults the facts about asthma as well as the skills to control and manage it. The fact that asthma is a chronic disease, without a cure, should not scare you. By knowing what your specific symptoms are, avoiding your triggers, and working with a doctor or health care provider, you can manage your asthma. Asthma affects everyone differently but no matter the severity of the case, you can still live a normal and healthy life.

The New Britain Health Department offers free asthma educational services for children up to age 18 in the New Britain area. It consists of a free home visit to provide information about asthma, a home assessment to evaluate for triggers and free mattress pads and covers. Please call 860-826-3464 for more information and to schedule a home visit.