Spring has officially sprung. How do I know? It’s not because of the blooming flowers lining the streets of Manhattan. Not from the gradual increase in temperature, or from simply looking at the calendar. And it’s not even from the emergence of flip-flops and the happy clomping sound they make on the sidewalks. Nope, I know it’s officially spring from the massive amounts of sneezing going on around me, myself included. Spring, or rather, allergy season, is officially in full bloom.
While it seems that most of us fall victim to a seasonal allergy symptom or two (even my cat Sniffles is sniffling up a storm these days), for some people, there could be something more serious going on. And that’s why the nation’s leading allergists want to help.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) is conducting its 15th annual Nationwide Asthma Screening Program this month. The program offers free screenings at more than 200 locations across the country for people who have symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath that occurs during exercise, or at night—symptoms that can all be indicative of asthma, or even exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB).
So how common is asthma? More than 24 million Americans, including 7.1 million children, have asthma, a disease that’s responsible for almost 4,000 deaths a year. Asthma attacks are often triggered by allergens such as pollen, certain drugs and food additives, respiratory infections, and physical exertion. Between 80 to 90 percent of people with asthma suffer from some degree of EIB, which also occurs in people without asthma, affecting about 10 percent of the general population.
The good news is that both asthma and EIB can be controlled with treatment—but the first step is diagnosing it. Fortunately, the ACAAI is making that part easy. Here’s how:
First, find a free screening in your area by clicking here. When you go to a screening, adults can expect to complete a 20-question Life Quality (LQ) Test. Children under age 15 take a special test called the Kids’ Asthma Check that allows them to answer questions themselves about any breathing problems. Another version of the Kids’ Asthma Check is available for parents of children up to 8 years of age to complete on their child’s behalf. After the questions, participants take a lung function test that involves blowing into a tube, and then they meet with an allergist to determine if a referral to a doctor for a more thorough examination is needed.
For a list of asthma screening locations and dates, or to take online versions of the LQ Test and Kids’ Asthma Check, visit allergyandasthmarelief.org.