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Summertime — and the breathing is not easy

Low air quality days in the summer will affect all city residents, but especially those with asthma, which more than 2.2 million Hispanics across the U.S…

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As summer draws near and air quality becomes worse due to the heat and pollution, those with underlying medical conditions such as asthma have to be even more conscious of taking steps to prevent asthma attacks and related symptoms. 

Statistics from the Center for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health show that Hispanics suffer from higher childhood asthma rates in both Pennsylvania and throughout the country, with more than 2.2 million Hispanics reporting in 2015 that they currently have asthma. Hispanics are also twice as likely to visit the emergency department for asthma when compared to non-Hispanic whites. 

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For Puerto Rican Americans, the reality is even worse, as they suffer from asthma at almost twice the rate of the overall Hispanic population, while Puerto Rican children are twice as likely to have asthma as non-Hispanic white children. 

Air Quality Awareness Week, from April 30 - May 5 this year, is outlining how people can both reduce air pollution and protect themselves from its effects. 

What should people with asthma do to protect themselves from the effects of low air quality? 
  • Check out the air quality every day. The US EPA issues an area specific, color coded air quality forecast each day, available in Spanish here
  • Reduce outdoor activities on low air quality days. On days when air quality reaches Code Orange or Code Red, people with breathing problems, like asthma, should reduce strenuous outdoor activities. This will reduce exposure to air pollution and lessen the likelihood of aggravating asthma symptoms. 
  • Keep your medication ready. Any inhalers and other medications should be nearby at all times so that they are easily accessible in the event of an attack. 
  • Drink water. Hydration will help lung functioning and prevent any additional dryness in the throat and mouth that can lead to or worsen an asthma attack. 
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