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Take action against asthma.

Two new initiatives can help adults and children with asthma live active, healthy lives.

Free asthma screenings for people who are experiencing breathing problems will be held at more than 300 locations across the country beginning this May. Adults and children can find out through the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Nationwide Asthma Screening Program if symptoms such as chronic cough, wheezing and shortness of breath might be a sign of asthma.

A new tool developed by the American Lung Association promotes changes in attitudes, public policies, and laws related to asthma and air pollution.

"What's so frustrating about asthma is that it is a manageable disease that all too often is not being managed, resulting in trips to the ER and limiting normal childhood activity," said Norman H. Edelman, M.D., the American Lung Association's consultant for medical affairs. "We know the steps that need to be taken to manage the disease, and now we've laid down the specific rights that will give children, parents, and teachers a road map to strong asthma management."

The Kids With Asthma Bill of Rights includes ten statements that form the pillars of a complete asthma-management plan, including the right to breathe clean air at home and at school, the right to play sports with a doctor's agreement, the right to stay inside if air pollution levels are too high, and the right to carry asthma medications. The Bill of Rights also encourages children to work with their parents, teachers, and doctors to create an "Asthma Action Plan" when trouble strikes.

"Too many people suffer from undiagnosed or undertreated asthma without realizing it," said John Winder, M.D., chair of the Nationwide Asthma Screening Program. "Not only are these adults and children making unnecessary lifestyle compromises, but they also are putting themselves at risk for irreversible lung damage. The screenings increase asthma awareness and help people recognize the signs of the disease, which might only be a chronic cough."

Asthma affects an estimated 20.3 million Americans and is more common in children than adults. In addition, asthma is responsible for nearly 4,500 deaths each year. Although the exact cause of asthma is unknown, many treatment options are available to control this chronic inflammation of airways in the lungs and related symptoms.

An asthma attack often is triggered by allergens such as pollen, animal dander, certain drugs and food additives, viral respiratory infections, and physical exertion.

Asthma specialists conduct the free asthma screenings at shopping malls, civic centers, health fairs, and other accessible locations throughout the country.

During a screening, adults and children answer questions about any breathing problems. Participants also take a lung function test and meet with an allergist.

For a list of asthma screening sites and dates or to take online versions of the questionnaires, visit www.acaai.org.
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Publication:Medical Update
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2005
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