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Asthma Awareness Month Brings Warning for Upcoming Wildfire Season

(May 6, 2019) - PORTLAND, Ore.

For more information please contact:

Holly Harvey
[email protected]
(206) 512-3292

May is Asthma Awareness Month, and the American Lung Association reminds all Oregonians that wildfires this upcoming summer season can bring devastating trouble for those with asthma.  

“We know that environmental factors including air pollution are a huge trigger for the more than 400,000 people in Oregon that have asthma,” said Cathy Gidley, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Oregon.  “Wildfires over the past years have negatively impacted air quality, and this can cause severe reactions in asthma sufferers and others with lung health issues.”   

Asthma is a chronic lung disease that makes breathing difficult. Air passes through the nose, down the throat, into the lung and into branching tubes called airways.  With asthma, those airways are often swollen and red.  When an asthma trigger – anything from smoky air to a change in temperature– reaches those inflamed airways, extra mucus is created, the airways swell and muscles around the airways tighten, all making it even harder to breathe.  

Particle pollution, which can come from wildfire smoke, can trigger asthma attacks and can kill. Studies of children in California found that children who breathed the smoky air during wildfires were more likely to have to go to the doctor or to the hospital for respiratory causes, especially from asthma.

Asthma can start at any age, and those with asthma as a child may have symptoms go away as lungs develop, but there is a possibility that symptoms will come back later in life.  The exact cause of asthma is not known, though genetics, allergies and environmental factors all play a role in asthma development.  

“While we don’t know the exact cause of asthma, we do know that every season, every new environment and every new activity may bring different asthma triggers with it,” Gidley said. “Asthma follows you wherever you go. It takes extra planning to make sure that a breathing emergency doesn’t cause you to miss out.”

In honor of Asthma Awareness Month, the American Lung Association encourages all Americans to increase their asthma awareness and knowledge by visiting Lung.org/asthma-basics and taking the Lung Association’s free online learning course.  More asthma information and resources can also be accessed through Lung.org and the Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA.  

5 tips to manage your asthma:

Make Your Medical Visits More Productive

There are a number of resources available to help you ask the right questions about asthma management and treatment the next time you see your healthcare provider.

Create an Asthma Management Plan

Learn how to develop a plan with your healthcare provider that includes key information on managing your asthma.

Assess and Monitor Your Control

Common asthma symptoms can include a cough, tight feeling in your chest, wheezing, activity limitation and feeling tired. Keeping track of your symptoms will help you stay in control.

Understand Your Medication

There are a variety of medicines available to treat asthma. Each person's asthma is different and your doctor and healthcare team will work with you to set up a personalized plan.

Reduce Asthma Triggers

Identify your asthma triggers and learn simple ways to limit your exposure or avoid them altogether.

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About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.

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