The Time is Now for Bold Action on Asthma and Allergies
By: Sanaz Eftekhari, Chief Business Development Officer and Vice President of Research, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) invites you to help raise awareness and improve the quality of life for the more than 100 million people in the U.S. with asthma and/or allergies.
Asthma is a long-term disease that causes inflammation and swelling of the airways. This results in narrowing of the airways that carry air from the nose and mouth to the lungs. Over 3,500 people die every year from asthma, and it is one of the most common and costly diseases in the U.S.
Allergies are one of the most common, but overlooked, chronic diseases. There are many different types of allergies. Approximately 81 million people in the U.S. have seasonal allergic rhinitis, or pollen allergy. Pollen allergy can be a trigger for asthma. Allergic conditions share some of the same immune responses so it’s not uncommon for people to have more than one allergic condition. For example, many people who have food allergies also have asthma. About 20 million people have food allergies in the U.S.
Get Involved and Take Action
There are many ways you can take action during May – and all year – to help raise awareness of asthma and allergies. Here are a few:
- AAFA’s 31 Days of Action offer many opportunities to raise awareness and become involved. For a full list of activities and actions advocates can take, visit our website.
- Be sure to download and share our facts sheets on asthma (PDF), allergy (PDF) and food allergy (PDF).
- Share our AAFA awareness images on social media. These are helpful tools to start conversations about asthma and allergies.
Join AAFA’s asthma and allergy support community and opt-in to get involved in advocacy, research, or become a patient spokesperson.
AAFA’s Commitment to Creating Health Equity
It is also important to highlight the issue of health equity as it relates to treatment and outcomes for people with asthma and allergies. This year, on World Asthma Day (May 2, 2023), AAFA announced new health equity program sites as part of AAFA’s Health Equity Advancement and Leadership (HEAL) initiative.
The HEAL program represents AAFA’s commitment to drastically reduce health disparities in communities with the heaviest asthma and allergy burden. Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native people are disproportionately impacted by asthma and allergies.
AAFA’s HEAL program identifies and funds community-based health interventions tailored to at-risk populations most impacted by asthma and allergic diseases. Now in its second year, AAFA has selected two new programs in New York and Alabama to be funded through HEAL.
The first program is a collaboration with New York City-based AIRnyc. AIRnyc will develop a unique asthma care intervention targeted toward the Hispanic population in the Bronx and surrounding areas.
In addition to New York City, a new program in Alabama will use a virtual model to complete asthma management home visits and provide asthma health education. The program will build a community health worker network to address the rural health disparity needs through collaborations with schools, local and state departments of health, and other state-based organizations and partners.
AAFA will continue to support and work with the four programs funded in the first year of HEAL in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, and St. Louis.
Managing Asthma and Allergies
There is no cure for asthma and allergies. But you can manage these diseases with prevention and treatment, improved access to health care, clean air, and safe food. It is important that everyone – not just those with the diseases – understands ways to address asthma and allergies.
Thank you for joining AAFA as we aim to save lives and reduce the burden of disease for people with asthma and allergies!
Learn more about the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and our food allergy division, Kids with Food Allergies (KFA) at: aafa.org and kidswithfoodallergies.org
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) is a member of the National Health Council. For more information on NHC membership, please email [email protected].