Asthma Rates Increase Despite Improvements in Outdoor Air Quality

Asthma Despite improvements in outdoor air quality, and despite the elimination of  secondhand smoke via indoor smoking bans in some cities across the U.S., a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that the number of people diagnosed with asthma in the U.S. increased by 4.3 million between 2001 and 2009. The increase occurred among all demographics, though a higher percentage of children reported having asthma than adults. The numbers were especially high among boys and the highest increase in asthma rates was among black children.

Interestingly, the CDC stated that, “While we don’t know the cause of the increase, our top priority is getting people to manage their symptoms better.”

Is it just me, or is the entire problem evident in that one statement? I think the CDC may need to reorganize its priorities. After all, they are the Centers for Disease Control AND PREVENTION. And, as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…

Symptom management typically means more prescription drugs and more money spent on unhealthy corticosteroid medications that both insured and uninsured people with asthma already can’t afford. It means putting a band-aid on the symptoms of the disease rather than addressing the root cause and helping to prevent even more increases in asthma rates in the coming years. Essentially, we are merely sweeping the problem under the rug. How about, instead of managing symptoms, we get to the root of the problem? How about, instead of simply assessing the (strange) fact that asthma rates have indeed gone up in the last eight years, we assess WHY they have gone up and try to fix that so that the rates go down in the years to come? That would really save on health care costs in the long run, wouldn’t it?

The first recommendation made by the CDC for reducing asthma rates is improving indoor air quality. Simple actions like regularly changing your air filters, having a few indoor plants, keeping the inside of your house clean, minimizing or eliminating the use of fragrances and products with toxic chemicals indoors, and using a shower filter to rid toxic chlorine from your shower water, can drastically reduce the amount of harmful pollutants that trigger asthma attacks, within the home. Schools and workplaces may be a little more difficult. Lower-income schools may not be able to afford the types of renovations needed to reduce asthma triggers. However, money spent on educating asthma patients on how to improve their quality of life naturally, rather than on prescription drugs and healthcare, will go a lot farther in the long run.

Do you agree?

May is Asthma Awareness Month. Spread the word by re-tweeting and sharing this post!