Clearing the air on basic facts

asthma and allergies: the renewed importance of clearing the air on some basic facts and figures

By Niamh McKeon, BA (Mod) Science

Americans spend an estimated $10 billion a year on non-medicinal, consumer products marketed for people with asthma and allergies. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recently released a report on Health Statistics for those with asthma; it makes for quite stark reading. This article reviews some key facts and figures on both of the conditions.

  • A figure of 300 million had been suggested for the total number of people in the world who have some form of asthma symptoms.
  • The US therefore accounts for nearly 10% of the world’s asthma sufferers.
  • Overall, females have higher current asthma prevalence than males.
  • Adults who had at least one asthma attack in the past 12 months reported missing 14.2 million work days – that is equivalent to 56,349 people not working for the entire year!

Asthma: is a disease of the lungs that causes airways to become blocked or narrowed making it difficult for you to breathe. Certain types of airborne particles called “allergens” and “irritants” can trigger asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing. These effects are usually temporary, but if an asthma episode is severe, a person may need emergency treatment to restore normal breathing. Despite the far reaching effects of asthma, much remains to be learned about what causes it and how to prevent it. Although asthma can cause severe health problems, in most cases prevention and treatment can control it and allow a person to live a normal and active life.

Americans spend an estimated $10 billion a year on non-medicinal, consumer products marketed for people with asthma and allergies such as vacuum cleaners, air cleaners, bedding, toys, flooring and more.

There is no cure for asthma, but asthma can be managed with proper prevention and treatment.

Asthma has a genetic component. If only one parent has asthma, chances are 1 in 3 that each child will have asthma. If both parents have asthma, it is much more likely (7 in 10) that their children will have asthma.

More Americans than ever before say they are suffering from asthma. It is one of this country’s most common and costly diseases. Every day in America:

  • 40,000 people miss school or work due to asthma.
  • 30,000 people have an asthma attack.
  • 5,000 people visit the emergency room due to asthma.
  • 1,000 people are admitted to the hospital due to asthma.
  • 11 people die from asthma.

Allergy is characterized by an overreaction of the human immune system to a foreign protein substance (“allergen”) that is eaten, breathed into the lungs, injected or touched. This immune overreaction can result in symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose and scratchy throat. In severe cases it can also result in rashes, hives, lower blood pressure, difficulty breathing, asthma attacks, and even death.

There are no cures for allergies. Allergies can be managed with proper prevention and treatment.

Allergies have a genetic component. If only one parent has allergies of any type, chances are 1 in 3 that each child will have an allergy. If both parents have allergies, it is much more likely (7 in 10) that their children will have allergies.

More Americans than ever before say they are suffering from allergies. It is among the country’s most common, yet often overlooked, diseases.

Niamh McKeonniamhsmaller
Niamh graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a 4 year honours degree, BA (Mod) in Natural Science specialising in Zoology. She has specialist research experience in bird speciation and coral reef surveys gained on the islands off Sulawesi, Indonesia. On her return and to extend her office skills and efficience she completed a Business Skills Diploma from Pitman Training for which she achieved a distinction. Before working at airmid healthgroup ltd she worked in the production of science, technology and physiology based television programs for the Irish national broadcaster, which involved researching into current developments and issues. Niamh now manages the testing and certification approval processes.

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