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May is National Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month

May is National Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

  • More than 60 million Americans overall have asthma and allergies.
  • More than 26 million Americans have asthma.
  • More than 6 million children have asthma.
  • More than 10 people die every day from asthma.
  • More than 6 million children have food allergies.

In this blog, Holly Hink, APRN, CPNP, outlines what asthma and allergies are, and a few misunderstandings about them.

What is asthma?
Asthma causes swelling and inflammation inside the airway and lungs. It causes many different symptoms including:

  • trouble breathing
  • cough
  • wheezing
  • and feeling like you cannot take in a breath.

Some people only have problems a couple of times per year with asthma. Some people have problems every time they exercise. In addition to cough, wheezing, tightness in chest you may notice you will tire out before other people on the team or have to stop and breathe or cough while the other team members are still running. There are other individuals with asthma that cough or wheeze daily without exercise or get sick frequently. If you have cough, wheeze, tightness in the chest with physical activity, cough more than two times per month or use Albuterol two times per week (or more than you need to) see a provider to discuss daily treatment for asthma. If you or your child is prescribed steroids by mouth like prednisone or receive injections like dexamethasone one time per year or more this is something to speak to your provider about. Asthma attacks can be deadly.

What are allergies?
An allergy is when your immune system reacts to something, called an allergen. It could be something you eat, inhale into your lungs, inject into your body or touch. This reaction could cause:

  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • itchy eyes
  • a runny nose
  • and/or a scratchy throat.

In severe cases, it can cause:

  • rashes
  • hives
  • low blood pressure
  • breathing trouble
  • asthma attacks
  • and even death.

Some people have seasonal allergies and have runny nose and congestion when seasons change. Some people have symptoms all the time to things in the environment and keep constant runny nose and congestion. Others may ingest certain foods or medications that cause stomach pain, hives or problems breathing.

Asthma, allergies and eczema go hand and hand and are very inherited conditions, which means these are things you can pass on to your children or grandchildren. Second-hand or third-hand smoke can be very harmful to any infant or child and make them more likely to have asthma. If they already have asthma, smoke exposure can cause them to be sick more frequent and difficult to control their symptoms.

Here are a few misunderstandings about asthma and allergies.

If I take daily medication like inhaled steroids for my asthma my body will become dependent on it.
Actually what happens is the medication is working to prevent the inflammation in the lungs, which makes symptoms go away or happen less frequent. Asthma is a very treatable condition. It is unknown if children will outgrow asthma or not but while they are still having symptoms it is extremely important to control the symptoms and keep them well. If a child has asthma and is left untreated then they can have permanent lung damage as an adult.

If I give my child something to eat they are allergic too they will not be allergic to it anymore.
Some people never outgrow a food allergy. It is NEVER recommended to give a person any product they are allergic too, especially foods that cause anaphylaxis and trouble breathing. Anaphylaxis can cause death. There are some facilities actively doing research on children and food allergies, but these are taking place in controlled environments.

I should restrict my child from playing sports because he/she cannot breathe.
Just because a child has asthma, this does not limit their ability to play any sports. Daily medications like inhaled steroids reducing the inflammation in the lungs to allow for them to breathe easier.

Asthma and allergies are both very treatable conditions. With appropriate treatment and medications, life can become life again. Children can play sports and run and be a regular child again. Please make an appointment with your provider or your child’s provider to discuss any symptoms or concerns you may have about asthma and allergies.

Holly Hink, APRN, CPNP, works at the Campbell County Medical Group Kid Clinic, a school-based pediatric clinic offering medical care for Campbell County, Wyoming. The clinic serves children ages 2 weeks to 18 years old; and counseling services for children 4 years old to 21 years old. It is located at 800 Butler Spaeth Rd., across from St. Matthew’s Catholic Church in Gillette, Wyoming. The Kid Clinic is open Monday-Friday from 8 am-5 pm. For more information, call 307-688-8700 or visit

The Kid Clinic is a collaborative effort between Campbell County Health and Campbell County School District.