Does Race Increase Your Chances of Asthma?
Creating a Safe Environment
- Eliminate indoor offenders: Clean dust mites, pest feces and dander. Seal entry points and weatherproof roofs and windows to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
- Improve indoor air quality: Use air conditioning with HEPA filters to reduce the presence of pollen, particulates from waste burning and vehicle exhaust. Consider installing an air filter to further purify the environment, especially in the bedroom. Make sure all gas appliances are properly vented.
- Stop allergens from accumulating: Remove carpeting to prevent the collection of allergens in the fibers. Use a hypoallergenic pillow and mattress covers to improve nighttime asthma symptoms.
- Be prepared: Always use daily preventive control medication as directed to reduce symptoms and attacks. One of the most effective tools for home monitoring is an asthma action plan, created by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. This uses a “green, yellow and red” system simple enough for children that allows them to monitor their progress. Explain that this medication keeps them in the plan’s safe “green” zone and what steps to take if symptoms increase. Share the plan with the child’s school nurse and day care providers.
- Secure housing: Clean, safe, and free of pests, mold, mildew and secondhand smoke.
- Access to medical care: Ability to get a timely appointment convenient to home.
- Safe schools: Structurally sound and free of pests, mold, mildew and violence with positive role models and trusted adults for guidance.
- Built environments: Playgrounds that are well-maintained, places for recreation, clean air and waterways, no hazardous waste and crime-free neighborhoods.
- Transportation: Affordable, reliable and convenient ways to get to and from work, health appointments, schools and grocery stores.
- Freedom from poverty: Ability to provide for basic needs of food, electricity, clothing, housing and communication. A stable home and reliable utilities are necessary to employ preventive measures that control asthma.
- Absence of racial segregation and discrimination: Equal rights and treatment. A history of discrimination has led to mistrust between the medical establishment and people of color, fracturing patient-provider confidence.
- Social support: Family, friends, teachers, coaches and health care providers as advisors and supporters in times of need. Chronic illnesses like asthma require long-term support tapping resources in all areas of a child’s life.
- Education: Having basic needs met so that higher learning can occur. Kids with well-controlled asthma have better school attendance and, when not distracted by worry over their health, are more likely to focus on success.
- Employment: Safe, reliable and consistent employment that pays a living wage. This is the economic foundation on which to build a stable, healthy home.
Solving the Burden for Families
- Health expenses: Rescue and control inhalers, special equipment, provider fees and hospital bills.
- Exhaustion: Symptoms worsening at night and worry over attacks lead to sleeplessness.
- Stress: Frequent calls to 911 for emergency care of a child who can’t breathe.
- Instability: Missed days of work and school lead to income insecurity and falling behind in school.
- Genetic burden: Asthma tends to affect several members of one family, taking a toll on children and parents when multiple diagnoses are found.