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Allergy Awareness: Keeping A Date With Asthma

Allergy Awareness: Keeping A Date With AsthmaEvery year the world chooses a date in May to celebrate World Asthma Day. This year May 2nd was the day in which the world gave a special focus on this ailment that is caused mainly as a result of allergic reactions. World Asthma Day is an annual event organised by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) to improve asthma awareness and care around the world. Moving forward, the entire month of May has been dedicated to asthma and allergy awareness all over the world.

Experts say you must be on the lookout for the following signs so as to be equipped on what next to do: For instance, if you frequently experience shortness of breath or you hear a whistling or wheezy sound in your chest when you breathe, you may have asthma – a chronic condition that causes inflammation and narrowing of the bronchial tubes, the passageways that allow air to enter and leave the lungs. If people with asthma are exposed to a substance to which they are sensitive or a situation that changes their regular breathing patterns, the symptoms can become more severe.


Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways in the lungs. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. The most common signs of asthma are:

  • Coughing, especially at night, during exercise or when laughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest tightness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing (a whistling or squeaky sound in your chest when breathing, especially when exhaling)

Any asthma symptom is serious and can become deadly if left untreated. If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, visit an allergist for a diagnosis, and then develop an asthma action plan.


Asthma symptoms may be triggered by exposure to an allergen (such as ragweed, pollen, animal dander or dust mites), irritants in the air (such as smoke, chemical fumes or strong odours) or extreme weather conditions. Exercise or an illness — particularly a respiratory illness or the flu — can also make you more susceptible.

A physical display of strong emotion that affects normal breathing patterns — such as shouting, crying or laughing — can also act as an asthma trigger. Panic can prevent a person with asthma from relaxing and following instructions, which is essential during an asthma attack. Scientists have found that rapid breathing associated with strong emotions can cause bronchial tubes to constrict, possibly provoking or worsening an attack.

Asthma symptoms can appear at any time. Mild episodes may last only a few minutes and may be resolved spontaneously or with medication; more severe episodes can last from hours to days.

People with asthma, like those with any chronic condition, may experience significant stress. Because it is a leading cause of work and school absences asthma can affect a person’s livelihood, education and emotional well-being. Depression may set in when people diagnosed with asthma believe that they are unable to participate in normal activities.

If you are experiencing breathing difficulties that interfere with your daily activities thereby reducing the quality of your life, this month is a most auspicious period (or any other time) to visit an asthma screening event or centre in your area and see an allergist for diagnosis and treatment. An allergist can also help you recognise the early warning signs of an attack and coach you in ways to cope during an emergency.


Effective treatment of allergic asthma includes identifying and avoiding allergens that trigger symptoms, using drug therapies and developing an emergency action plan for severe attacks.

Who & Why?

If you frequently experience shortness of breath or you hear a whistling or wheezing sound in your chest when you breathe, you may have asthma. Asthma symptoms affect several millions of people throughout the world.

Types of Asthma

Occupational Asthma

If you experience wheezing, coughing, chest tightness or shortness of breath at work, you may have occupational asthma. People with this condition usually work around chemical fumes, dust or other irritants in the air.

Exercise induced

If you start wheezing or coughing during exercise, or if physical exertion makes it difficult for you to breathe, you may have exercise-induced broncho-constriction, or EIB.

Asthma & other conditions

Asthma can complicate other medical conditions. It would be very useful too if you find out from your doctor how to manage your asthma during illness or pregnancy.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a collection of lung diseases that cause breathing problems and airflow obstruction. Included in this group of diseases are refractory (severe) asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Asthma screening

No one with asthma or allergies needs to suffer. An allergist is an expert at diagnosing and treating asthma and allergies; they can help you determine if you are at risk for asthma or help you find the cause of allergy symptoms.


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