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May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.

May is the peak season for asthma sufferers. That's why the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has named May as National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month.

Asthma is a disease of the lungs that is triggered when airways become blocked or narrowed, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms of an asthma attack are wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. An attack can prevent you from being physically active and may even lead to a visit to the emergency room.

It's important to learn all you can about asthma and how to manage it better. One way is to identify and avoid substances known to trigger attacks. Triggers can include:

  • Airborne pollutants such as cigarette smoke and auto exhaust
  • Exposure to cold, dry air
  • Gastric reflux
  • Molds, dander, and pollen
  • Respiratory infections
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Toxic substances like gasoline, perfumes, and cleaning products

If these efforts don't work, your physician may prescribe you an inhaler or other forms of medication. There is still much research that needs to be done to fully understand how to prevent, treat, and cure asthma, but with proper management, you can live a healthy and active life.

Additional health and wellness information

If you're a Highmark member, you have access to a secure, members-only website. Here you will find more information about asthma and allergies. To access the website, select the service region noted on your member ID card. After logging in, select the "Wellness" tab. Type "asthma" or "allergies" in the search field.