May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month
By Member Joyce Shry
May 8, 2020

We are at peak allergy season now and about to enter the hottest months of the year—when asthma sufferers are most vulnerable to attacks. There is no cure for asthma or allergies, and many attacks and deaths are preventable with proper treatment and care.

Asthma and allergies are not only two of the most common diseases but also two of the most overlooked. In the United States, 25 million people suffer from asthma and 50 million suffer from allergies, though many go untreated. Asthma and allergies are leading causes for hospital visits and missed days of work and school. Even worse, thousands die each year from asthma attacks and anaphylaxis allergic reactions.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American (AAFA) since 1984 has deemed May "National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.”  Asthma, the chronic and complex inflammatory disorder that narrows the airways and is a serious public health problem that affects both children and adults.

Education is the primary objective of Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. It is hoped that by educating the public about both chronic health conditions, more action will be taken to prevent symptoms and improve the quality of life of those affected.
Exposure to allergens or irritants to which patients are sensitized may increase asthma symptoms and precipitate asthma exacerbations in patients who have asthma.

The reaction can range from uncomfortable ¬- such as watery eyes, a rash or hives, or sneezing – to serious and possibly life-threatening symptoms which require immediate medical attention, including swelling of airways, known as anaphylaxis. Common allergens include drugs or medicine, food, insect bites/stings, latex, mold, pets and pollen.

Doctors diagnose allergies by reviewing a patient’s medical history, doing a thorough medical exam, and running tests to identify specific allergens. Treatments are based upon medical history and the type and severity of the symptoms. They can include avoidance of allergens, traditional medication therapy, and/or immunotherapy, which trains the immune system not to overreact.

Identifying and managing allergic triggers, in addition to pharmacological management, can have a significant impact on control. When managing asthma, it is important to identify and provide appropriate advice to help your patient reduce exposure to their confirmed triggers.

This is more important now more than ever in light of COVID-19 (the new coronavirus). With many health care providers stressed, the best thing you can do is to keep your asthma and allergies under control to avoid a trip to the emergency department.