Asthma is a lung disease that affects 7 million children and 16 million adults in America. More than $ 50 billion is spent on asthma every year and yet still more than 3,500 Americans die from asthma and its complications each year. Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children and the most common reason children miss school.
There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed with proper prevention and treatment. Patients, family members, and care givers can be taught to recognize the early signs and symptoms of an asthma attack. They can also be taught what to do during an asthma attack, and how to recognize and avoid environmental triggers. Many fatal asthma attacks can be prevented by early recognition and treatment.
Almost every patient with asthma can have better quality of life with proper medication and education. Use of peak flow meters and development of asthma action plans can significantly decrease the severity of asthma events. This helps prevent hospitalizations and deaths, but also prevents patients from missing school, extracurricular, or other important events. Children with uncontrolled asthma frequently cancel plans due to cough and difficulty breathing, Proper control of asthma and preventing attacks is critical for children to be active, both in and out of school, and to allow them to develop social skills.
Most cases of uncontrolled asthma are due to poor access to medication and lack of education on proper use of medications and other rescue strategies. Even people with life-long asthma rarely have formal education about asthma, or an action plan. Properly educated patients and care givers can adjust asthma medications based on monitoring tools and symptoms to prevent severe asthma events, and to know when it is best to seek the help from their healthcare provider, an urgent care clinic, or an emergency room. Even with optimal education and medication, some children will need to be hospitalized, but they will rarely die in the hospital setting.
Allergy & Asthma Network has been a fundamental partner for the BMAC Memorial Foundation. Its mission, similar to the Foundation’s, is to end the needless death and suffering due to asthma, allergies and related conditions through outreach, education, advocacy and research. The BMAC Memorial Foundation is abundantly grateful for the Allergy & Asthma Network’s support, encouragement, and guidance over the last several years.
What are Risk Factors?
Race is a risk factor for asthma—current data indicates that 1 in 6 African Americans have asthma and the greatest increase in the incidence of asthma is seen in this population. Asthma among Hispanics is four-times greater compared to Caucasians.
Gender is also a risk factor for asthma with females out numbering males almost 2:1.
Age—Asthma is more common in children than adults. Boys are more likely to have asthma than girls but women are more likely to have asthma compared to men.
Family History—you are more likely to develop asthma if one of your biological parents has asthma
Allergies—individuals with allergies to mold spores and dust mites are more likely to develop asthma.
Exposure to smoke—children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy and exposure to second-hand smoke are more likely to develop asthma.
Exposure to air pollution and toxic chemicals can also increase your risk of developing asthma.
Obesity has recently been identified as a major risk factor for asthma and asthma is considered to more severe in this population.
Viral infections—upper and lower respiratory tract infections
Occupational Factors—exposure to compounds such as flour dust (bakery workers) and industrial chemicals.
Stress and its alteration of the body’s immune system.
Medications play a key role in the treatment and prevention of asthma.
Unfortunately, many of the medications are expensive and the delivery equipment and other supplies are also expensive. There are many charities, foundations and pharmaceutical programs to help with these costs. That is why the Brendon McLarty Memorial Foundation focusses its efforts on asthma education and awareness. We believe we can save lives by helping people learn to better manage their asthma and by helping communities become aware of the serious consequences of uncontrolled asthma.
We believe that everyone who cares for children with asthma should be educated to recognize an asthma attack and know when and how to help or call for help. We hope to educate families, teachers, coaches, church leaders, and anyone else who spends time with children how they can prevent a severe asthma attack and possibly save a life.
If just one life is saved from our efforts, then our foundation will have served its purpose.
Living with Asthma
If you are diagnosed with asthma it is important to work closely with your healthcare provider to help manage your disease. With proper avoidance of triggers and the right medications you will have more control over your symptoms.
What to Expect
Living with asthma may require daily medication to prevent symptoms and/or taking medications as needed for flare up of symptoms. It is important to avoid triggers that make your symptoms worse, as well as remain in contact with your healthcare provider, and keep up to date on your flu and pneumonia vaccines. Your healthcare provider may ask you to monitor your breathing at home to watch for any change that may suggest your asthma is not well controlled. An asthma action plan may be developed which will outline actions and medications to be taken based on your symptoms.
Indoor Air Quality
Asthma symptoms can be managed by improving your indoor air quality.