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.
Jessica Barber Brown and her son Isaac, age 11, live about 45 minutes outside of Louisville, Kentucky (overall #7 on Asthma Capitals), in Lawrenceburg. Both Jessica and Isaac have asthma and allergies. Isaac was diagnosed with asthma and a milk allergy at age 3 after many trips to the emergency room with croup and breathing issues. And his mom, Jessica, was diagnosed with asthma shortly after him.
“I am basically allergic to Kentucky, which is inconvenient when you live there,” shared Jessica. “I am allergic to ragweed and dust mites – those are my biggest ones. Then colds and sickness can trigger my asthma as well.”
To manage their asthma, Jessica and Isaac have a plan for everything. They worked with their allergist to make this plan. “I like breathing so we just kind of figure things out,” she shared. Their plan includes taking long-term control medicines as prescribed and always having quick-relief inhalers on hand.
She recommends that everyone with asthma and allergies work with their allergist to plan out “under what circumstances you need to do x, y or z.” She knows that, “If Isaac is going to his grandparents, we need to do x. If he is going swimming, we need to do y. And, if he is playing outside during this time of year, we need to do z.”
Despite all the planning, “with the environmental allergens, and the cold, and the pollen and all the smells, it feels like a major game of whack-a-mole. And you are just never sure which one you are going to have to deal with at what time. And whichever one is popping up, you have to deal with that one as another one surfaces.”
For Jessica and Isaac, their asthma management plan focuses on reducing exposure to triggers that are harder to control. For Isaac, this means he can play outdoor soccer in the fall, but not in the spring. “He doesn’t play in the spring because allergens are worse then, and it’s just not good for him.”