Wildfires could mean big problems for asthma sufferers


CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Release) - May is Asthma Awareness Month, and the American Lung Association reminds all Wyoming residents 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 thousands of people in Wyoming that have asthma,” said Carrie Nyssen, Senior Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association in Wyoming. “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 can bring different asthma triggers with it,” Nyssen 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 everyone 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.