Friday, June 24, 2011

Breathing Room

I am one of millions of Americans who suffers from asthma. Most of the time, I don't think about it. I go on with my day like everyone else. Every so often, though, I have a little trouble breathing. In the worst case, I'll have an attack.

Air Quality Index, EPA. Image: Wikipedia

It's sometimes hard to explain to people what it feels like when you get an asthma attack. Many non-asthmatics liken the condition to a typical respiratory affliction, like clogged sinuses or a cough. It's not. An asthma attack feels like you're suffocating. Think about it - air is about the most immediate thing we need to survive. If your lungs swell up and keep you from breathing, that's about as scary a feeling you can have.

Thankfully, the EPA has provided some helpful seasonal information that can help prevent asthma triggers:

Asthma rescue inhaler.
Summer heat is here, and that means it is more important than ever for people with asthma or other respiratory ailments to pay close attention to the air quality where they live. Like the weather, air quality can change from day to day or even hour to hour.

During the summer when ozone levels rise, the number of people with asthma related symptoms admitted to hospitals and emergency rooms increases.  Asthma rates – especially among children – have increased dramatically.  Asthma affects 25 million people in the United States, including seven million children. That’s 8 percent of the population. One out of every 10 school aged children is affected.

“While we have made great strides in improving air quality, we still need to do more,” said EPA mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “By further improving air quality, we can help to control asthma and provide a more active lifestyle for children, a vulnerable population.”

In addition to the essential step of speaking about asthma with your health care provider and being aware of general air quality conditions, the EPA list the following specific steps that can help prevent an asthma episode:
  • Play it safe. Ground-level ozone and particle pollution can exacerbate an asthma episode. Look for the Air Quality Index (AQI) during the local weather report or go to EPA’s website The Air Quality Index uses a color-coded system to display whether the five major air pollutants exceed air quality standards for the day. When the Air Quality Index reports unhealthy levels, people, particularly asthmatics and others with respiratory ailments, should limit strenuous outdoor activities.
  • Don’t smoke in the home. Take it outside. One of the most common asthma triggers in the home is second- hand smoke. Take the EPA ‘smoke-free home’ pledge:
  • Break the mold. Mold is another asthma trigger. The key to controlling mold is controlling moisture. Wash and dry hard surfaces to prevent and remove mold. Remove, and if possible replace, moldy ceiling tiles and carpet. For more see EPA’s website:
Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. There seems to be a lot of emphasis on children and asthma lately. I never had asthma when I was young, but it seems now that I'm in my 40's, I've been having trouble breathing.

    Lisa N.

  2. It's important to seek medical attention if you are having trouble breathing. Asthma can be life threatening. If you are diagnosed with asthma, ask your healthcare professional for an asthma action plan. Your action plan can help you manage your asthma symptoms.It gives you information about when and how to use daily medications, emergency medications and when to call your health care provider or seek emergency care. Taking action can help you asthma from getting worse! Rebecca G.

  3. Thanks for the input! I concur and re-emphasize that while paying attention to potential asthma "triggers" inside the home and out can help to reduce breathing troubles, it is no substitute for an action plan from a professional healthcare provider. Proper medical advice should always be the first line of defense.

  4. My asthma breathing problems mostly stem from pets. When I got married, my wife had a cat, and I didn't want to have her make a choice between Marci and me. It's not been the easiest thing to deal with, but I found it easier when we made "cat free" zones or "safe rooms" that I could retreat to for allergy- free air. After 4 years of marriage, no real problems. At least as far as breathing and living with cats.

    --Don K.