Breathe Easy: Reducing and Treating Asthma

Asthma affects people of all ages. It can even cause death if not properly managed.

According to the Office of Minority Health, about 20 million African Americans have asthma, more cases than any other group. Although African Americans make up 12.7 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 26 percent of all asthma deaths. African Americans are three times more likely to die from asthma than whites.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that nearly 5 million African American children under the age of 18 have asthma. African American children are more than twice as likely as Latino children to have had an asthma attack in the past 12 months. It is rare for children to die from asthma.

These numbers are why African Americans especially should be aware of asthma and how to keep it under control.  The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute studies asthma. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America also has some good information about asthma. They have the following to say about this lung condition.

What is Asthma?

With asthma, the tubes that carry air to your lungs swell and become blocked. The swelling has a variety of causes. The blocked airways cause problems like:

  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Trouble breathing

If you or someone in your family has these problems, tell a doctor so you can find out what you need to do.

If you or anyone in your family has asthma, it is important to learn how to manage it. Here are some helpful facts about asthma:

Asthma Facts

  • If someone in your family has asthma, you are more likely to get it.
  • Asthma cannot be cured. But it can be managed.
  • Learn what causes your attacks and try to avoid it. This could result in not needing as much medicine. Always talk with your doctor before changing how you take your medication, though.
  • Prescription drugs are best for treating asthma. Some medicines reduce airway swelling. Steroid tablets or liquids can sometimes control long-term asthma.
  • If you stop taking long-term medications, your asthma may get worse.
  • Always carry your medicine with you in case you have an attack.
  • If you are pregnant or thinking of having a baby, ask to your doctor what medicine is best for you.
  • Your asthma medicines may not work well with some other medicines. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription, over-the-counter and herbal remedies.

Caring for Children with Asthma

  • Help your children keep asthma under control until they can manage it on their own.
  • Have a doctor test your children for what causes asthma so these triggers can be avoided.
  • Teach your children to use their inhalers by themselves.
  • Be alert for the signs of an asthma attack in your children so you can give them medicine. These signs include:
    • Coughing
    • Sneezing
    • Noisy breathing

Asthma does not have to limit your lifestyle. In fact, many Olympic athletes have asthma. Try not to let asthma discourage you. Learn to manage it and you can breathe easy.

Click on the links below to learn more.

Sources

Office of Minority Health, Asthma and African Americans

http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/content.aspx?ID=6170

The Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics, Childhood Asthma

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/04news/childasthma.htm

The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Asthma/Asthma_Treatments.html

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

http://www.aafa.org

This information is for education only. It is not medical advice. Please ask your doctor for advice about changes that may affect your health.

Reviewed by:

Richard L. Lane MD., Managing Medical Director, KY

Lynette Cooper RN CMCN  Legal Specialist Sr