Today is World Asthma Day! While the world may not have asthma, for those who live with asthma, it can mean the world to them for others to understand more about this respiratory condition and how it affects millions of people around the globe. For those living with asthma, or those who want to better support, learn, or help, there’s something we can all to do help those who are living in a world that’s harder for them to breathe in.

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) is a leader in advancements in research and management for those living with the chronic inflammatory disease of Asthma. On their website, they share in basic terms, “Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways that leads to recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can vary in frequency from person to person. During an asthma attack, the lining of the airways becomes inflamed and swollen, causing them to narrow and making it difficult for air to pass through.” Although there are different types of asthma, and while many do not have “asthma attacks,” their respiratory distress can impact their life.

How can you help? Understanding the impact of asthma on individuals’ lives is a start. When someone is living a chronic condition it can be challenging, but one that impacts how they breathe can require some extra empathy and support. With varying impacts, some people may have significant differences in their quality of life, leading to limitations in physical activities, disruptions in sleep patterns, missed school or workdays, and even life-threatening situations during severe attacks. By raising awareness and showing compassion towards individuals with asthma, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for those managing this chronic condition. For someone who is missing out on events or even basic everyday tasks due to asthma, having someone who understands, “why,” can be a helpful support even when their next breath can be a challenge.

Another way we can help people living with asthma, or those who we may not even know have it, is to think about how we impact the air around us. In the workplace, we can help to support clean air by speaking up about poor ventilation or ongoing issues. We can all do our part to be mindful of our scents! From the perfumes, scented deodorants, lotions, and many other scented things we put on our bodies, we can make the choice each day to lessen the impact by choosing items marked, “fragrance-free,” or “hypoallergenic.” Don’t tell someone with asthma that a smell doesn’t bother you! If you don’t have respiratory illness, you won’t understand the impact a scent may have on them. Lastly, keep learning! Learn the basic triggers, symptoms, management, and emergency strategies that may be helpful in an asthmatic emergency. If you are around people who may tend to need help, learn or ask if asthma is something they live with, do they carry an inhaler, would they prefer you be scent-free. Before you invite them over should you get rid of certain items like scented candles, etc?

Today is a reminder to us all how important it is to breathe! And those living with asthma are reminded too often how much their breathing is impacted regularly. When the people around them understand this is a real illness that requires care, support, and prevention it can help them to feel validated and supported. Especially in our area where seeking care may mean traveling or needing rides to see specialists, you never know where you might be able to help an asthmatic in need.

The Centers for Disease Control says that, in 2021, 24,963,874 Americans were living with Asthma. Of them, almost 40% had at least one asthma attack that year. Almost 30% had spent time in the emergency room and almost 3% in the hospital. Sadly, in 2012, 3,517 people also lost their lives due to asthma. These numbers are too high. As researchers and scientists work to create a world that’s asthma-free, we can work to make sure we are helping to support those who need it. In a world where so many struggle to breathe, we can make it easier by offering support, and empathy, and figuratively creating more room to breathe.


Mary Hoadley

Director of The Wellness Center