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Ask the Advocates: Why Is It Important to Recognize Asthma Awareness Month?

May is Asthma Awareness Month! Being a community called Asthma.net, you could guess that we are prepared and excited to recognize this month so we bring awareness to this chronic condition! People with asthma are constantly aware of the condition. However, it is still important for people who do not have asthma to gain a better understanding and awareness of the condition.

Anyone can create awareness this month (or any month) by sharing about their asthma, advocating for themselves or their loved ones with asthma, and by being open to conversations about asthma. We asked our advocates to answer the question, “Why is it important to recognize Asthma Awareness Month?” This is what they had to say.

The importance recognizing of asthma awareness month

Rebecca responded:

"There are several reasons people should recognize Asthma Awareness Month. One such reason is to achieve greater support behind the cause. When this chronic illness is brought to the forefront of discussion in the community, empathy and validation becomes the driving force behind its mission of bettering the lives of those affected by it. There is no greater achievement than to see prosperity, enablement, and advancement result from such awareness, specifically that of greater health and wellness. Asthma advocacy, a full 31 days of colorful conversations, offers an abundance of information highlighting every aspect of the disease, from signs and symptoms to diagnosis and treatment, as well as scientific and pharmaceutical progression and access to patient and caregiver empowerment.

Another reason activism and awareness are important is because they are conversation starters. They provide a much-needed platform where it is appropriate to ask questions. This is an excellent means by which to educate the public of the many challenges a chronic disease such as asthma can have, not only for the child or adult living with this respiratory ailment, but for their family, friends, and colleagues present in their daily lives. It is the podium where many bravely stand up and offer ideas and recommend new concepts. It is the solid ground under the building of a robust community who argues and defends on behalf of those in ill-health, offering perspective and experience. Advocacy creates the safe space needed for voices from different avenues to be heard, for collaborating, advancing, and promoting the betterment of and in favor of simplifying the gigantic hurdles complicating the lives of those affected by asthma."

Leon shared his perspective:

"One month out of every year, we recognize asthma and try to raise the public's awareness of this disease. The importance of this cannot be overstated, for several reasons. Most people do not have asthma, although many folks know someone who does have the disease. Since asthma tends to be an 'invisible' disease, it is fairly unrecognizable to most people until there is an issue or they are present for someone else's asthma episode. For someone who is having an asthma attack, this episode can range from mild (unnoticeable to the casual acquaintance) to the life-threatening (when folks around the person with asthma tend to react incorrectly).

Today, much of the public knows how to react and even what to do, in the event of a significant cardiac event (call 9-1-1 and perform CPR). This is because, over the years, there has been much in the way of public service announcements and advertising related to heart health. The same can be said of several other diseases – all one has to do is see the proliferation of pharmaceutical advertisements that focus on medicines to treat those various other diseases.

This is the objective of asthma awareness month: To raise awareness of asthma and what it means to have an asthma attack, as well as what to do for the person when assistance is needed. I recognize there are a large number of commercials nowadays that focus on new asthma drugs. That is all good too – if they stimulate interest in learning more about the disease, I am all for it!

What do you know about asthma? Could you know more? Do you know someone who has an asthma diagnosis?"

Ms. Al Veoli said:

"Asthma can be an isolating condition. Fear of unexpected triggers and the embarrassment of using our inhaler in front of others can often keep us at home. Long recovery times from asthma episodes along with the anxiety of catching COVID-19, flu, or even a cold can limit our activities and social lives.

For people with asthma, Asthma Awareness Month provides an opportunity to find others who are experiencing the same challenges. It’s the one time of year we can share our stories without feeling like we are complaining about our disease. Hopefully, we can also make an impact through advocacy and fundraising efforts.

Asthma is often misunderstood. People with asthma are almost always portrayed in TV and the movies as nerds or weak. In May of every year, we get to remind the world that we are warriors."

Becky responded:

"I’ve had asthma all my life, and out of all the health issues I’ve had throughout my life, asthma attacks are the scariest. The feeling of your entire body working overtime to keep you breathing is a sensation you don’t forget, and asthma awareness month is important because:

  • People who have asthma need to not only be aware of it but also take ownership of their health and take it seriously. The last asthma attack I had was caused by me being cavalier about my health and not monitoring my triggers and medicine.
  • People who don’t have asthma still need to know what it looks like – the signs of an asthma attack and what to do if someone they care about is experiencing one.

The more awareness we can have around asthma and that it’s more than just someone being short of breath, the more we can take care of ourselves and others to prevent catastrophic asthma events. I’ve needed others to carry me into the emergency room before because I wasn’t getting enough oxygen during an asthma attack and couldn’t breathe enough to tell them what my name was. If there’s asthma in a relationship or family, it needs to be talked about, and everyone needs to know what they need to do in case of an emergency."

Keeping the conversation going

How can or will you recognize Asthma Awareness Month? Our advocates shared some of the reasons why this month is important, and we know there are more reasons that cannot all fit into this article. Why is this month important to you? Share with us in the comments below!

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