If you suffer from asthma, you may think you're "on your own" when it comes to figuring out how to control symptoms and triggers. You might not realize there are resources and information available to help you navigate the tough road of asthma.
May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month," says allergist Stephen Tilles, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). "It's an opportunity to make people aware of useful tools to help control asthma. One of the goals of asthma treatment is to have a normal, healthy lifestyle that includes exercise. Allergists are specially trained to work with patients to reach goals that help them breath better and create healthier lifestyles."
Following is information ACAAI wants you to be aware of as you work towards controlling your asthma:
Biologics: the new frontier in asthma – Some people who suffer from severe asthma have tried every treatment available, but nothing works. Biologics are personalized treatments that target specific, individual pathways that trigger the worst symptoms. Rather than relieving symptoms, the therapy attacks the source of the asthma at the cells that lead to allergic inflammation.
Laws banning second-hand smoke – People know smoking is bad for you, especially if you have asthma. But many do not realize the benefits of staying away from second-hand smoke. A recent study in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, ACAAI's scientific journal, showed emergency rooms in communities with indoor smoking bans had a 17 percent decrease in children needing care for asthma attacks. Previous research showed kids are more likely to be hospitalized for asthma if they are exposed to second-hand smoke at home. This new study shows that even short exposures to secondhand smoke in public spaces like restaurants can affect asthma flare-ups.
Recognize the signs when your asthma isn't controlled – Many people think their asthma is under control when it is not. A visit to the allergist can help you identify what changes might be needed to improve your symptoms.
Keep the "Rule of Twos" in mind to help understand if your asthma is not under control:
- Do you have asthma symptoms or use your quick relief inhaler more than two times a week?
- Do you wake up at night with asthma symptoms more than two times a month?
- Do you refill your quick relief medication more than two times per year?
Also note if you:
- Have had a life-threatening asthma attack.
- Have symptoms that are unusual or hard to diagnose.
- Have hay fever or sinus infections that can complicate asthma.
- Have been admitted to a hospital because of asthma.
Identify experts who know how to help – Getting the right treatment for your asthma is critical to staying healthy. Allergists are specially trained to treat asthma and understand what steps are needed to keep symptoms under control. In fact, studies show that when an allergist treats asthma, results are:
- A 77 percent reduction in time lost from work or school.
- A 45 percent reduction in sick care office visits.
- A 77 percent reduction in emergency room costs.
- Improved emotional and physical well-being, and greater satisfaction with your physician and with the quality of your medical care.
If you’re unsure if you have asthma, or you want to find out if your symptoms are under control, check out the Nationwide Asthma Screening Program. Through the program, allergists in communities across the country offer free asthma screenings to help you discover if your breathing is on track. No screenings in your area? Find an allergist on the ACAAI website.