The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) promotes allergy and asthma awareness each May. Many people will begin sniffling during the spring or fall and mistakenly think they have a cold and they must simply suffer through the symptoms, when in fact they are having an allergic reaction to a seasonal allergen. The persistent cough of a sixth grade student may not be a lingering infection but actually a mild form of asthma that could easily be treated with the right medications. Many people who have allergies and asthma may not realize it because they have never been exposed to information that explains the symptoms adequately. Use Asthma and Allergy Awareness month to reach out and educate your students, patients, or clients.
Spring arrived early this year in almost all areas of the country. Plants were blooming weeks, if not months, ahead of schedule and people were sneezing and wheezing earlier than ever. Find out how areas in your state ranked by looking at the AADA Allergy Capitals interactive map. Most of the states with the highest levels of allergy and asthma sufferers are partnered with the National Asthma Control Program and more information about each of these states can be found at their interactive State Profiles Map. From there you can also find specific information about state programs and contacts to help plan any outreach programs or to find assistance for people who are identified as having asthma or allergies.
Many people think treatment for allergies and asthma is out of their reach, however, there are many resources that are available to help children and adults across the country get the help they need to control their asthma and allergies. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have an abundant selection of information as well as local, state, and federal resources for those suffering from asthma and severe allergies. Community organizers can utilize this information to help raise awareness. Community health fairs and booths at local malls or shopping centers can be used to help increase awareness of asthma symptoms, triggers, and treatments. If a full-fledged health fair is not feasible consider making regionally appropriate charts of local triggers as well as common symptoms and doctors who specialize in allergy and asthma treatment in the area.
One of the suggestions in the Asthma Awareness Month Even Planning Kit is holding a community event that provides asthma screenings. Partnering with local specialists or state health care workers is a great way to implement the screenings. It allows community members to become more familiar with care providers and also helps identify individuals who may be suffering unknowingly from asthma. Other ideas include school involvement, hospital and clinic events, local government endorsements, and cooperation with national and regional organizations.
How will you help spread awareness about asthma and allergies this year?