May is just around the corner. Michigan temperatures are (finally) warming up, flowers are in full bloom and Asthma dangers are heightened due increased outdoor triggers such as smoke, emissions from cars and dust in the air. According to the EPA, Asthma is a serious, sometimes life-threatening chronic respiratory disease that affects roughly 25 million Americans, 7 million of whom are children. Common symptoms include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness or pain in the chest. Here are some of the most common triggers as well as preventative measures you can take during Asthma Awareness Month.
Even healthy people have difficulty breathing when air pollution levels are high. Gas emitted from tailpipes and power plants contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone and smog. Similarly, the burning of coal and crude oil produces sulfur oxide, a respiratory irritant associated with the onset of asthma attacks.
Limiting exposure to air pollution can reduce the risk of a flare up. The EPA keeps tabs on local air quality across the country. During May and warmer months, especially for city dwellers or those living near factories, check the air quality index on a regular basis to determine if you are at risk. See the chart below for more information.
Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic and is one of the most common triggers of asthma attacks, according to the Center For Disease Control. Inhaling smoke can cause tightness in your chest and belabored breathing.
If you’re an asthma sufferer, it’s important to avoid secondhand smoke if possible. Try to avoid being in an enclosed space with a smoker. For the 21 percent of smokers suffering from asthma, it is strongly advised to quit smoking.
Mold grows in areas where accumulated moisture goes undiscovered for an extended period. If left unchecked, particles can affect your indoor air quality and lead to asthma flares. Prolonged exposure can be detrimental to your health. if not properly disposed.
Ways you can prevent mold in your home:
- Clean and repair roof gutters regularly
- Make sure the ground slopes away from the building foundation to avoid water entry
- Fix plumbing leaks immediately
- Scrub visible mold using detergent and water, making sure to thoroughly dry the area after
Dust mites are microscopic bugs found in almost every home and may very likely be the most common cause for asthma attacks in your home.
Studies show that more dust mites live in the bedroom so that’s a good place to start cleaning. To help prevent attacks, use mattress and pillowcase covers to create a barrier between you and mites. Avoid using down-filled comforters and pillows and wash sheets and pillows in water warmer than 130 degrees.
For severe Asthma attacks, you should go to Emergency Room. For minor, non-life threatening attacks, your local urgent care center can provide the necessary care for you or your child. Though there is no cure for Asthma, you can prevent flare ups by avoiding some of these common triggers. Visit Michigan Urgent Care to find the closest clinic to you.