May is Asthma Awareness Month

May 03, 2012

May is Asthma Awareness Month, a time for Americans to learn more about this chronic respiratory disease, which, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, negatively impacts quality of life for more than 24 million Americans, including more than seven million children.

Asthma is a serious, sometimes life-threatening health issue that can be triggered by environmental irritants such as smog, smoke and chemicals, as well as contact with substances that generate allergies, including dust mites, cockroaches, molds and pollens. Asthma affects the lungs and causes repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing.

While asthma can co-exist with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an umbrella term that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, it is important to understand the similarities and differences between the two.

Asthma is a disease of long-term inflammation that is best treated with anti-inflammatory medications. While asthma cannon be cured, proper treatment can allow asthma sufferers to live symptom-free.

Individuals with COPD also experience long-term inflammation, but, unlike asthma, it is not triggered by allergies and does not respond well to anti-inflammatory medication. Those with COPD experience permanent, irreversible lung damage.

This May, let’s join together to increase public awareness of asthma – its symptoms, triggers and treatment -- and foster a greater understanding of lung health and how to avoid lung-related diseases.