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.|
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 www.airnow.gov. 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: www.epa.gov/smokefree.
- 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: www.epa.gov/asthma/molds.