Veteran Middle East correspondent and Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Shadid died Thursday in Syria of an apparent asthma attack, which may have been triggered by an allergy to horses according to an article in the New York Times. The death is especially surprising because Shadid carried asthma medication according to the photographer who was with him, the Times reported.
It’s a sobering reminder, lest we forget, of asthma’s potential to kill.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates that 1 in 15 Americans suffer from asthma. Though people with mild cases may never see the inside of an ER, approximately 11 people die from asthma every day in the United States.
Sharecare rounded up advice from top experts on ways to protect yourself.
Know Your Triggers
Asthma triggers range from changes in weather to fear or anxiety. But some 50 percent of asthma cases are linked to allergies to substances like pollen or dust—or yes, horses—according to the AAFA.
Know Your Meds
Asthma medication is still the best course of prevention against an asthma attack. If you have asthma, your doctor may have prescribed both a long-term control medication and a fast-acting medication. It’s critical to use the long-term control medication every day, whether or not you have symptoms.
Use your fast-acting or “rescue” medication at the first sign of an attack. Depending on your situation, you doctor may also want you to also use it before you encounter one of your known triggers. “For example, if exercise is a trigger for you, your doctor may recommend taking quick relief medication before you play or work out,” note experts at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, Utah.
If your asthma attacks are triggered by allergies, you might want to consider allergy shots (immunotherapy) to help control the allergy.
Don’t Be Complacent
“After the attack subsides, and apparently normal breathing is restored, the asthma is still there,” says allergy and asthma expert Paul Ehrlich, MD. Make sure you have a written asthma action plan from your doctor, which is key to making sure you know which medications to use when—and to keeping your asthma under control. (Is yours under control? Find out here.)
How much do you really know about asthma? Take our quiz.
What’s your biggest asthma concern? Leave a comment and let us know.
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