Puerto Ricans under attack-Asthma attack
Puerto Ricans 125% more likely to have Asthma than non Hispanics, worst places to live for asthmatics, how to control it.
Puerto Ricans are under attack, the numbers are startling, and they are 125% more likely than whites and 80% more likely than blacks to have asthma. When it comes to the prevalence of attacks it is even worse, Puerto Ricans have the highest attack prevalence, 140% higher than non-Hispanic whites. This is according to the Centers for Disease Control 2005 statistics (CDC). In 2005 17% of Puerto Ricans living in the US had asthma compared to 5% of Mexicans, whites had 7.6%, and non-Hispanic blacks had 9.4%.
So of the approximately 396,000 Hispanics living in the tri sate area (US Census 2006) some 25% have asthma. If you break it down further, of the approximately 212.200 Puerto Ricans in the tri State area some 36,000 have asthma.
"Ethnic differences in asthma prevalence, morbidity and mortality are highly correlated with poverty, urban air quality, indoor allergens, and lack of patient education and inadequate medical care". The American Asthma and Allergy Foundation made these comments in their Asthma Facts and Figures data. It further noted that "Hispanics may have an elevated risk for exposure to air pollution since a disproportionate number live in areas failing to meet one or more national standards for air pollutants. (It is estimated that 80 percent of Hispanics live in areas that failed to meet one U.S. EPA air quality standard, compared to 65 percent African Americans and 57 percent of Whites.)" The reasons for the alarmingly high rate are many.
Worst places to live
The American Asthma and Allergy Foundation annually release a report on the worst US cities for asthma and allergy sufferers. The spring 2008 report has just been released and Pennsylvania is high on the list of cities with the worst pollen counts. This spring Harrisburg, PA comes in as the 20th worst city to live in the US for those with asthma and allergies, whereas last spring it ranked number 76. Philadelphia follows at number 25, whereas it was number 33 last year. Allentown, PA was the only other city ranked in either PA,NJ or DE and it was the 47th worst place to live for asthma and allergies, which was actually an improvement over last year when it ranked 32nd. You can see the rest of the worst cities by going to www.aafa.org .They also provide some excellent resources for information on asthma and allergies in both Spanish and English.
Some studies have found that foreign born Latinos suffer lower rates of asthma than US born Latinos. One study quoted in the American Journal of Public health in 2000 noted that "Foreign-born Latinos embedded in a neighborhood with a high percentage of Foreign-born residents experience significantly lower asthma prevalence, while those in communities with a low percentage of Foreign-born Latino residents have the highest prevalence overall." Another study mentioned that the factors of low income and an unhealthy environment and how the more recent immigrants are better able to withstand these effects thereby reducing the rate of asthma they experience is a fact not to be overlooked. This was highlighted in a study "Latino Cultures: different prevalence reported among groups sharing the same environment" published in 1999 in PubMed from the National Institutes of Health.
What is asthma?
According to the Centers for Disease Control brochure asthma is a disease that affects the lungs and it is the most common long term disease in children, and prevalent in adults too. It causes repeated episodes of wheezing breathlessness, chest tightness, and night time or early morning coughing. An asthma attack is caused when something irritates your lungs. Chances are that if someone in your family has asthma you are more likely to have it also.
The triggers are varied and each individual can be triggered by something different. The most common asthma triggers are;
• Outdoor air pollution, such as industrial emissions and automobile exhaust.
• Cockroach allergen, either the cockroaches or their droppings can cause an asthma attack
• Pets, furry pets may trigger an attack
• Pollen or Mold, inhaled
• Environmental tobacco smoke ,or 'second hand smoke'
• Dust mites
How to control asthma
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (US National Institutes of Health) published in July 2007 the updated guidelines for the diagnosis and management of Asthma. In those guidelines they offer the following suggestions to help manage asthma.
• Do not allow smoking in your home, car or around you. Be sure that no one smokes in your child's daycare or school.
• Encase your mattress and pillow in special dust-mite proof covers. Wash the sheets and blankets each week in water hotter than 130 Fº.
• Reduce indoor humidity to or below 60% ideally 30-50%. Dehumidifiers or central air conditioners can do this.
• Remove carpets from your bedroom if possible.
• Avoid lying or sleeping on cloth covered cushions or furniture.
• Keep stuffed toys out of bed, or wash weekly in hot water.
• Keep pets with fur or hair out of your home.
• To avoid cockroaches, keep all food out of your bedroom, keep garbage and food in closed containers. Use baits, traps etc to get rid of cockroaches.
• Get someone else to vacuum clean for you at least once or twice a week.
• Fix leaking faucets, pipes or other sources of water, and clean moldy surfaces. Dehumidify basements if possible.
• During allergy season, keep windows closed during midday and afternoon when pollen counts are highest. (check local daily pollen counts at www.aaaai.org/nab)
• Try to stay away from strong odors produced by wood burning stoves, kerosene, unvented gas appliances, perfumes, talcum powders, hair sprays, paints, new carpets or particle boards.
There is no cure for asthma and no one really knows for sure what causes it to begin with. But there are ways to a least to manage it and learn to live with an increasingly common ailment.