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The Right to Breathe

We recently wrapped up the third week of September and are now encroaching upon the Fall season. Many do not realize that the past week is known for having an increase in asthma attacks for those who suffer from this disease. Asthma is a condition that disproportionately impacts communities of color and areas where resources are harder to reach to alleviate the disease. Awareness and prevention can be key in maintaining a healthy and safe lifestyle with this asthma.

The Condition

Asthma is a medical condition that impacts your ability to breathe freely and can be life threatening. During an asthma attack your airways narrow and swell and can produce extra mucus. This makes breathing difficult and in turn can trigger excessive coughing, wheezing when you breathe in and out, and ultimately shortness of breath. It essentially feels like you are trying to breathe or catch your breath with a small tube. Many medical professionals attempt to treat the disease; however, outlying factors and social determinants of health can overly influence a person’s ability to achieve healthy outcomes while living with this disease.

Certain areas of society can be more prone to having asthma sufferers, particularly if you live near industrial sites or high traffic areas known for having an increased amount of air pollution. The third week of September tends to have higher pollen counts that can trigger allergies and adverse reactions that can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Given the increasingly alarming rate at which impacts of global warming can be felt across the globe, it is reasonable to expect more severe allergy seasons and an increase of longer periods of suffering.

The world continues to debate global warming and climate change with no end in sight for a unified commitment from everyone, while many are left behind to suffer the consequences. These consequences become exacerbated when greed and power come into play and can impact society’s ability to make progress in both curing, and prevention of lung diseases such as asthma.

The Solution

Being aware of your medical condition and taking a preemptive approach can help to alleviate some of the burden of heightened symptoms. Finding the root cause of underlying inflammation goes a long way in curbing asthma episodes and can be lifesaving. Knowing when peak allergy days are by following your local weather report or avoiding visiting certain places without protection can help.

Additionally, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or face can keep allergy triggers under control. As a former sufferer, I still vividly recall making multiple emergency room visits with my parents due to asthma attacks. Often parents or caregivers are not given the advice they need on preventative measures as opposed to reactive ones. Education by our medical providers is key to enabling better lifestyle choices that can alleviate long term impacts.

There are local hospitals, community organizations, educational facilities, and healthcare clinics that provide free resources and assistance for long term asthma and lung disease sufferers. We live in a society where we do not have to suffer alone. Medication is crucial in controlling asthma and having a health plan designed by a medical professional that also includes maintenance and prevention goes a long way in alleviating some of the harmful impacts of this lung disease.

As famous athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee once said, “There are few restrictions on your life with asthma, as long as you take care of yourself.” Remember to always seek advice from your medical provider or healthcare institution and take back your right to breathe.


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