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Did you know that asthma affects 1 in 13 people in the United States?

Asthma is a long-term condition that can make it harder for to breathe because the airways of the lungs become inflamed and narrow. For those who have the disease – or think they do – don’t tough it out. While there’s no cure for asthma, it can usually be managed by taking a few key steps that can help you live a full and active life.

Here are some important facts to know first:

  • Asthma affects some communities more than others. Black people and American Indian/Alaska Native people have the highest asthma rates of any racial or ethnic group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In fact, Black people are over 40% more likely to have asthma than White people.
  • Asthma rates vary within some communities. For example, Puerto Rican Americans have twice the asthma rate of the overall U.S. Hispanic/Latino population.
  • Some groups are more likely to have serious consequences from asthma. The CDC found Black people are almost four times more likely to be hospitalized because of their asthma than white people.
  • Almost twice as many women as men have asthma.

Even if someone experiences asthma differently than others, they can still take action to try to control their symptoms and begin doing the things they love. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommended these four steps:


Talk to a health care provider

Work with a health care provider to set up an asthma action plan. This plan explains how to manage asthma, what medicines to take and when and what to do if symptoms get worse. It also tells what to do in an emergency.


Know and track your asthma symptoms

For those experiencing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or shortness of breath, tell a health care provider about them and make sure to keep track of any changes. That way the patient and the provider can know if the treatment plan is working.


Identify and manage your triggers

Some common asthma triggers include dust, mold, pollen, pests like cockroaches or rodents and pet hair. The asthma action plan can help people figure out what triggers make their asthma worse and how to manage them.


Avoid cigarette smoke

For those ho smoke, talk to a health care provider about ways to help you quit. Anyone who has loved ones who smoke, ask them to quit. Also, avoid smoke in shared indoor spaces, including the home and car.


Asthma doesn’t have to stop anyone from leading a full and active life. Find out more about asthma and how to manage it from NHLBI’s Learn More Breathe Better program at

Mollie Finch Belt is the Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of The Dallas Examiner. She attended elementary school in Tuskegee, Ala.; Cambridge, Mass.; and Dallas, Texas. In 1961, she graduated from...

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