On May 7, 2019, – World Asthma Day – the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) released the 2019 Asthma Capitals™ report. This report ranks the top 100 Asthma Capitals in the U.S. It highlights the widespread impact asthma has on our nation. For 25 million Americans, asthma is a challenging disease that can have physical, emotional, social and financial impacts. Here is a personal story from one of our top 20 capitals to show what life is like managing asthma.
Growing up, Jerica Gordon’s sister had asthma, but she does not remember her having any asthma attacks. “So when my son was having trouble breathing, I thought it was just congestion or something. There was no wheezing that I remember hearing,” she shared.
In November 2016, Jerica took her son Jonathan Robinson, Jr., then age 5, to the emergency room.
“It sounded as though he was gasping for air,” she recalled. He was having an asthma attack. He was admitted to the hospital and stayed there for a few nights until he could hold his oxygen steady while sleeping.
“The worst was when I couldn’t breathe,” remembers Jonathan. “My mom took me to the emergency room, and she had to carry me in because I was too tired.”
Before then, he had not shown any signs of asthma.
Today at age 8, Jonathan has mild asthma. He and his mom live in St. Louis County, Missouri, in a suburb outside of St. Louis (overall #17 on 2019 Asthma Capitals). He takes two long-term asthma control medicines every day and always carries his quick-relief inhaler. Luckily, he has only had to use the quick-relief inhaler a handful of times.
“Sometimes it is scary to not be able to breathe,” shared Jonathan. “But then I remember I have to slow down and take my inhaler to help.”
Living in the St. Louis area can be challenging for those with asthma. Jerica shared that “Saint Louis is hit or miss with the weather and allergens in the air.” She explained that his “triggers can vary but are usually excessive running, muggy/thick air and congestion colds.”
Managing her son’s asthma is a challenge both emotionally and financially for Jerica. Despite having health insurance, his asthma medicines are very expensive.
“I’m always worrying about how his body will react to the different weather and activities that he participates in and, of course, how am I going to afford the $300 preventative inhaler every month,” Jerica said.
Together, Jerica and Jonathan try to make sure they are prepared to react if a flare up happens. “We have only had one excessive flare up and it was because of a cold that Jonathan was fighting,” she shared.
She recommends that “once you get a diagnosis from the doctor or pediatrician, make sure you look up the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to see if they can help!”
Do you live the St. Louis area? If so, connect with the AAFA St. Louis chapter. AAFA St. Louis serves the city of St. Louis and the counties of St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson, as well as Madison and St. Clair counties in Illinois. They have programs to help children with asthma and allergies get life-saving medicines, equipment, education and support.