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.
Four years ago, Deborah Bartlett of New Haven, Connecticut (overall #11 on Asthma Capitals), was diagnosed with severe persistent asthma. Combined with her pollen and mold allergies, as well as COPD, breathing can be a real challenge.
Her house is nestled in the woods, and yet she can see the highway through the trees. It is so close that she can hear the tractor-trailers as they pass by and smell the exhaust fumes. The surfaces in her house are often covered with a black film of dust from the traffic.
“There is really no breath of fresh air here,” she shared. “I believe the air quality to be poor. The sky has a fog or film, like a darkish look to it … To go outside I have to use a mask to breathe a little better. I’ll wheeze and cough without the mask most of the time.”
She has changed a lot in her life to manage her asthma, but she says she is “happy that I am here and breathing. I’ve learned to deal with the changes.” Due to the pollen and the poor air quality outside, she stays inside a lot, keeps her windows closed year-round and can no longer hang laundry outside to dry.
Springtime is especially challenging for Deborah. Pollen and mold are plentiful in the woods outside her house. “This time of year, I have to use the [quick-relief] inhaler sometimes once or twice a day almost every day of the week,” she shared. “Even though I’m on a medication program, and try to avoid triggers, I still have to use that.”
Due to the challenges managing her asthma, “A couple of my doctors have suggested that I move, but I just can’t,” she shared. “It’s just not possible for me, so I don’t even think about that right now. I just try to manage and avoid everything.”
She believes “if someone were to move here, they would eventually have a problem” breathing as well.