National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month in the U.S., is a key time of year in the lives of 25 million Americans living with asthma. But families dealing with the burden of this chronic disease are affected all year long, especially families in minority communities. A landmark report by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) called, Ethnic Disparities in the Burden and Treatment of Asthma [PDF | 551KB] , documented disparities among blacks and Puerto Ricans with asthma, including potential hereditary, environmental, and socioeconomic factors as well as efforts underway to lessen these disparities.
Among these groups, and especially among children, asthma prevalence, hospitalizations, and deaths are higher when compared to whites, but use of long-term medications to control asthma are lower. Access to quality care is hampered by socioeconomic disparities, shortages of primary care physicians in minority communities, language and literacy barriers, and beliefs about the role and usefulness of medications. Other important factors include high levels of exposure to outdoor pollution and to indoor residential allergens and irritants in substandard housing. Limiting exposure to allergens and irritants, and increasing use of long-term control medicines in combination with good educational programs in asthma management can go a long way toward reducing some of these disparities, helping families achieve better health and a better quality of life.
Since1953, The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with asthma and allergic diseases through education, advocacy and research. Visit www.aafa.org for free information - in English and Spanish - about preventing, diagnosing and managing asthma all year long.
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Mike Tringale is Vice President of External Affairs for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), a patient advocacy organization. Mike is responsible for public health communications at AAFA. Mike earned a Master of Science degree from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor of Science from Mary Washington College.