Asthma and Your Health
Did you know that May is also Asthma Awareness Month? It's a great time to educate friends, family, and patients about asthma and promote awareness about how Working Together for Clean Air can help control this serious, sometimes life-threatening, chronic respiratory disease. And it’s a great day to feature asthma education during Air Quality Awareness Week.
- More than two million adults and children in Texas have asthma. In 2018, uncontrolled asthma among Texans contributed to more than 115,000 emergency department visits and 12,200 hospitalizations.
- The average cost of an asthma hospitalization in 2016 was $23,726.
- In 2022, the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) recorded many days when air pollution levels were considered “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” which include people with asthma. Air pollution levels in the region were considered “moderate” or worse 48% or about 1/2 of the time.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a long-term disease that inflames and narrows your lungs’ airways. Have you ever tried to breathe through a flat straw? It makes breathing harder and can be scary. That’s how people who have asthma can feel when they are exposed to pollutants like dirty air, whether it’s from ozone, wildfire smoke or other pollution. We can all be prepared by checking the local air quality forecast at www.airnow.gov.
Avoid Air Pollution Triggers
People with asthma and other lung diseases usually know when they’re having a reaction, but what can you do to avoid it?
- First, know what your local Air Quality Index (AQI) forecast is for the day. If the AQI forecast is in the unhealthy categories, you can take appropriate measures and have your asthma action plan ready.
- Check your AQI before you go outside to know what steps to take. Reducing time being active outside, reducing your activity level, or even changing the time of day that you are outside can protect your lungs from air pollution. Learn how to use the AQI to reduce your exposure to air pollution.
- If there is smoke in the air, check the Fire and Smoke Map for the latest information about the AQI in your area. Wildfire smoke can make the outdoor air unhealthy to breathe. Smoke from outdoors can also enter your home and make it unhealthy to breathe indoor air. EPA has developed materials on how to reduce or remove polluted air inside of homes and buildings.
Learn how you can do to keep your indoor air quality cleaner during smoke events at https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/wildfires-and-indoor-air-quality-iaq.
Asthma and Air Quality
Local efforts to reduce air pollution and reduce exposure to air pollution when it occurs can help improve address asthma problems in two ways:
- Reductions in short-term exposure to ozone (O3), particulate matter (PM), and other pollutants can help reduce asthma exacerbations and hospitalizations.
- Reductions in long-term exposure to PM can help reduce the development of asthma in children in the first place.
Check out the page "Who is at Risk?" for more information on health and air quality!