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NHM Health Focus:
Asthma and Allergy Awareness

May 2009

Asthma Day logo

About Asthma
    What is Asthma (NHLBI)
    Basic Facts about Asthma (CDC)
    Breath of Life (NHLBI, NLM)

    Childhood Asthma (AAAAI)
    Tim & Moby Explain Asthma

About Allergies
    What are Allergies? (AAFA)
    What is an Allergic Reaction (AAAAI)
    Food Allergies (NIAID)
    Allergy Overview (Cleveland Clinic)

Multimedia and Interactive Resources
    Allergies to Dust Mites (MedlinePlus, NLM)
    Asthma (MedlinePlus, NLM)
    Just for Kids (AAAAI)
    Sneeze, an online mystery (AE@NHM)
    Video Library: Allergy (NBC Digital Health)
    Video Library: Asthma (NBC Digital Health)
    What's Asthma All About? (Merck)

Resources and Organizations
    Asthma Resources (NIEHS, NIH)
    Allergy (MedlinePlus, NLM)
    Asthma (MedlinePlus, NLM)
    Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA)


May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. Related May observances include World Asthma Day on Tuesday, May 5, and Food Allergy Awareness Week, May 10-16, 2009.

Every day in America:

  • 40,000 people miss school or work due to asthma.
  • 30,000 people have an asthma attack.
  • 5,000 people visit the emergency room due to asthma.
  • 1,000 people are admitted to the hospital due to asthma.
  • 11 people die from asthma.
    Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

Each year in America there are:

  • 17 million outpatient office visits due to allergies.
  • 4 million missed or lost workdays because of allergies.
  • 30,000 visits to emergency rooms each year due to food allergies.
  • 200 deaths due to food allergies.
  • 100 deaths due to insect allergies.
    Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

Many resources are available to help reduce these numbers. The U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as part of its Healthy Schools, Healthy Youth! program, has developed tools for schools to monitor and improve school health, including asthma management. Two of these tools are:

School Health Index, "a self-assessment and planning tool schools can use to evaluate and improve their health and safety policies and programs."

Managing Asthma, a Guide for Schools (NHLBI) "This guide is intended to assist schools that are planning and/or maintaining an asthma management program. This guide provides followup steps for schools that currently identify students with asthma through health forms or emergency cards or plan to do so. It is designed to offer practical information to school staff members of every position."

For individuals suffering from, or wanting to know more about, asthma or allergies, "Allergens and Irritants", provides information on various allergens and strategies to help people avoid exposure to these substances. (NIEHS)

In May 2000, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a comprehensive Action Against Asthma: A Strategic Plan. The resulting 2007 benchmark publication by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHBLI), Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma, translates advances in scientific understanding into practical strategies for the diagnosis and management of asthma.

Resources for teaching and learning about asthma and allergies in the Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum collection of resources for health and bioscience teachers include:

Let's Collaborate: SciTalk - Food Allergies and Sensitivities
Let's Collaborate: Science Seminar - Allergies
Activities Exchange: Mystery Spot - Sneeze
Activities Exchange: Mystery Spot - River of Venom
Activities Exchange: Fellows Collection - Hippocratic Medical Rounds
Activities Exchange: Fellows Collection - Immunology Unit
Health Headquarters: Question of the Week - Severe Allergies
Health Headquarters: Question of the Week - Asthma
Health Headquarters: Question of the Week - Chronic Childhood Illness
Health Headquarters: Question of the Week - What About Your Community?
Health Headquarters: Question of the Week - Health Disparities?
Health Headquarters: NHM Health Focus - Healthy Lung Month

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