Asthma Awareness

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

Enesta Jones:
Hello and welcome to Green Scene, an environmental podcast you can take with you. I’m Enesta Jones of the Office of Public Affairs. Millions of Americans suffer from the serious
and sometimes life-threatening respiratory disease called asthma. While May is Asthma Awareness Month, EPA is
committed year-round to educating all Americans about asthma so that everyone knows what asthma
is, how the environment can affect asthma patients, and how to manage environmental
asthma triggers. As part of our efforts, EPA supports organizations
that are working to improve the lives of people with asthma. Today joining me is Tracey Mitchell, a registered
respiratory therapist and certified asthma educator from our Indoor Environments Division
in the Office of Radiation and Indoor Air and a representative from one of EPA’s partners
in our asthma awareness efforts, Marcela Gieminiani from the Asthma and Allergy Network Mothers
of Asthmatics, AAANMA. Welcome Tracey and Marcela to the show. Tracey Mitchell:
Thank you. Marcela Gieminiani:
Thank you for having me. Enesta Jones:
Thank you for being here today. Marcela Gieminiani:
Thank you for coming. Enesta Jones:
So before we start talking about asthma, Marcela can you tell me a little bit about your organization? Marcela Gieminiani:
Yes, Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics. It’s a non-profit organization whose mission
is to eliminate death and suffering to asthma, allergy, and related conditions. We have a group of volunteers working with
us across the country. We call them Outreach Service Coordinators. And as part of that group we have the Hispanic
Outreach Service, which include cultural competent educational material and volunteers working
with under-served populations. We also work with families and schools and
community centers creating awareness on the disease so people can learn how to prevent
and manage asthma. Enesta Jones:
And Tracey, in addition to supporting non-profits, what else is EPA doing to promote awareness
and to fund this disease? Tracey Mitchell:
EPA directly and indirectly through some of our partner organizations conducting research
in primarily three areas to learn more about the genetics of asthma, the genetic component,
and why some populations are more affected than others. We’re also learning more about things in the
environment that trigger asthma and why some things are more of a trigger than others. And then we’re also working to learn more
about ways to reduce those triggers and what are the most effective ways to reduce people’s
exposures to things that could cause an asthma episode. Enesta Jones:
Now let’s talk more about asthma itself. What is this disease and what are some common
symptoms? Tracey Mitchell:
Asthma is a disease of the airways in the lung. And when someone has asthma they — their
airways become inflamed, red, and swollen and the lungs produce excess mucous. So it makes it very difficult to breathe. Common symptoms are coughing, wheezing or
whistling sound in the chest and difficulty or shortness of breath. And it can be very scary, especially for a
child who’s having an asthma episode. It is one of the most chronic diseases in
childhood and so it is a very serious problem in children. Enesta Jones:
Some of those symptoms we’re seeing now because of the flowers being in full bloom. What are some of the differences between asthma
and common allergy? Tracey Mitchell:
Asthma and allergies are actually very closely related. Many people who have asthma have an allergic
asthma, whereas pollens and molds, things in the environment that are seasonal often
can trigger an asthma episode. So along with the watery eyes, or the scratchy
throat, the itchy nose, people who have allergic asthma also will have the wheezing and the
coughing and sometimes those go hand-in-hand in about 80 percent of the cases. Enesta Jones:
Is there a certain population that is most at risk? Tracey Mitchell:
As I mentioned, children are actually the higher risk population or a higher risk population. Also Hispanics are at a greater risk and primarily
Puerto Ricans are disproportionately affected by asthma. About 2 million Hispanics in the country in
the United States have asthma. And so, they are definitely impacted more
than other populations. And actually African-Americans have a higher
hospitalization rate and a higher death rate than other populations. And so they are of a particular concern and
we’re working, you know, across all of these populations to help decrease the impact of
asthma. Enesta Jones:
And Marcela, your work with the community and with children — Marcela Gieminiani:
[affirmative] Enesta Jones:
— what tends to make asthma worse? Marcela Gieminiani:
Well, we call them triggers and there’s a lot of things that can set off asthma and
people should be aware of what is their particular trigger. Even though they are different for each people,
the most common are dust, mold, furry animals, pests like cockroaches and mice, second-hand
smoke can trigger asthma also, as well as play or exercise, viruses, and air pollution. Enesta Jones:
Prevention is often key. Is there is anything you can do to prevent
an attack? Marcela Gieminiani:
Yes, people with asthma and parents of children with asthma should know that with good care
anyone with asthma can lead a healthy life. The key is work with the doctor or the health
care professional to develop a treatment plan. This plan is called asthma action plan and
will tell you what medicine to take, when to take them, what to do when asthma symptoms
get worse, and how to avoid your triggers. Avoiding triggers is a key component of a
good asthma management. Also if the child has asthma you may want
to be sure that anyone who takes care of the kid has a copy of the asthma action plan and
understands how to use it. Enesta Jones:
Are there simple things that parents can do to avoid the triggers? Marcela Gieminiani:
If we are talking about indoor quality and asthma management, there’s several steps that
people can follow. The tips are to keep your house clean, dry,
and free of dust. That will prevent mold and pests. Also if dust mites are — set off your asthma
you may want to use allergy-proof cover and also wash your sheets and blankets weekly
with very hot water. And what is very important is never allow
nobody to smoke inside your house or in the car or at work. Enesta Jones:
Is there any other advice we want to give to our viewers? Marcela Gieminiani:
Yes, I think having an asthma action plan, taking the medicines that your doctor prescribes
and try to avoid your triggers is key components for better asthma management. You can take simple steps to make your home
asthma-friendly and you may want to start from your room. And then with small changes you can have your
home healthier for the whole family. Tracey Mitchell:
I think I’d just like to say while asthma can’t be cured, we know enough that we can
manage it and that while we are looking and doing the research that we talked about in
the sound science, there are things — simple things, as Marcela told us, that parents and
that people can do to address asthma right now. And at EPA we’re working through organizations
like the Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics and other national partners
to educate health care providers about comprehensive asthma care and including environmental management
and to really help at the community level to address asthma in communities across the
country. So the help is out there and hopefully people
will be able to access that and be able to help their children especially breathe easier. Enesta Jones:
Thank you Tracey and Marcela for being here today. Marcela Gieminiani:
Thank you. Tracey Mitchell:
Thanks. Enesta Jones:
More information about EPA’s efforts to reduce exposure to asthma triggers and what you could
do to minimize their impact is available at See you next time on Green Scene.

3 thoughts on “Asthma Awareness

  1. Hi my name is bryan creevy ive had asthma all my life and i feel like no one in my area is aware of how serious it is. id like a foundation to come and talk to my school if interested email me at [email protected] thank you

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