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Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

 

Every May, asthmatics and allergy sufferers across the United States can feel their respective conditions take their highest toll.  Heavily pollinating plants and other factors contribute to making this part of the calendar a highly unpleasant time for whoever suffers from these two incurable diseases.  This is precisely why the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has for years declared May as the National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. 

 

Asthma and allergies are celebrated together, as the two conditions are strictly related.  They both affect the respiratory system and have similar causes and symptoms.  Their incidence is also very common in today’s post-industrial society, which has led to them being classified as diseases of affluence

 

In the United States alone, about 25 million people suffer from asthma, 7 million of whom are children.  Half of those people reported having an asthma attack over the last year.  According to WHO estimates, the number of people on the planet suffering from asthma amounts to 235 million. Asthma cannot be cured, but it can certainly be managed successfully.  Taking appropriate medication and avoiding triggering agents such as dust or mites can prevent many symptoms, among which are wheezing, chest tightness, breathlessness, and extensive coughing at night or during the day.  Nevertheless, well over 3,000 people die in America every year from asthma.

 

Allergies are genetic conditions characterized by the immune system’s overreaction to certain protein substances (allergens) once they are ingested, inhaled, or even touched.  Research indicates that about 50 million Americans suffer from some kind of allergy, making allergy one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the nation.  Hundreds of people every year die from allergy-related causes.  From the financial standpoint, both diseases cost the federal and state budgets billions of dollars every year.

 

The celebration of the Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month has with years become widespread across the nation, with AAFA and other charitable and nonprofit organizations joining in organizing events, increasing public awareness, and raising funds for treatment, care, and research.  The national observance coincides in time with World Asthma Day, celebrated globally on May 7.  In this case, the leading organization is the Global Initiative for Asthma.  On its website, it offers extensive asthma-related content, including educational materials and information on local World Asthma Day events.

 

The AAFA website is the gateway to learning more about the annual celebrations.  It offers a wealth of resources on planned events, event organization, fundraising, education tools, and other venues for participation.  The USEPA has compiled a detailed Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month event planning kit for anyone who would like to organize local celebrations at the local school, community center, clinic, or any other place.  More information on asthma can also be found on the dedicated CDC website.

 

Many organizations are hosting local events throughout the month, such as the Allergy and Asthma Day at Capitol Hill by the Allergy & Asthma Network – Mothers of Asthmatics, or the Asthma Resource Fair in Long Beach, CA.  The Asthma Community Network manages a nationwide calendar of events for the upcoming month.

 

AAFA also offers a classification of the largest American cities according to their livability for allergy sufferers, called Allergy Capitals.  Click here to see how allergy-friendly your city is.