It’s National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

It’s peak season for asthma and allergy sufferers, a perfect time to educate yourself, as well as your family and friends about these conditions! Chances are, someone you know may be suffering from these common illnesses.

According to Kids Health, CHOC’s patient education online resource, Asthma is a lung condition that causes difficulty breathing, and it’s common among kids and teens. Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Anyone can have asthma, even infants, and the tendency to develop the condition is often inherited.

When someone breathes normally, air is taken in through the nose or mouth and then goes into the trachea (windpipe), passing through the bronchial tubes, into the lungs, and finally back out again. But people with asthma have inflamed airways that produce lots of thick mucus. They’re also overly sensitive, or hyperreactive, to certain things, like exercise, dust, or cigarette smoke. This hyperreactivity causes the smooth muscle that surrounds the airways to tighten up. The combination of airway inflammation and muscle tightening narrows the airways and makes it difficult for air to move through.

An estimated 75% to 85% of people with asthma have some type of allergy. Even if the primary triggers are colds or exercise, allergies – diseases of the immune system that cause an overreaction to substances, such as pollen – can sometimes play a minor role in aggravating the condition. An allergist can usually pinpoint allergies and, once identified, the best treatment is to avoid exposure to allergens whenever possible. Medications may also be prescribed.

Fortunately, asthma can be easily controlled and managed. Talk to your child’s health care provider about a customized asthma action plan. Make sure your child’s teachers and babysitters have copies of the action plan and understand what to do in an emergency.

CHOC is a leader in early detection and treatment of pediatric asthma, providing families the education they need to prevent asthma emergencies. If you suspect your child may have Asthma or Allergies, schedule an appointment with a CHOC Allergy/Immunology specialist, at 714-633-6363.

To learn more about these conditions, please visit these helpful sites:
http://kidshealth.chocchildrens.org/PageManager.jsp?lic=456&dn=Childrens_Hospital_of_Orange_County&article_set=21965&cat_id=143#

http://www.choc.org/publications/index.cfm?id=P00303&pub=KH&aid=545

http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?ID=5&Sub=105&Cont=457

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