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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Does zip code determine asthma?

The answer is a resounding YES!!!

I am watching a special that was on Dateline, called "in plain sight: poverty in america"  

The footage shows a reporter in New York City. He turns one way and looks over his shoulder at the affluent Upper East Side where asthma rates for children are about the same as the national average- around 7%. He looks over his shoulder to the other direction at the impoverished East Harlem, where asthma rates are 19%. Two neighborhoods close together, but miles apart in how people live.

How can the rates be so different? The housing conditions in some of the poorer areas are horrible. It's sometimes hard for me to watch the story on TV.  Leaking pipes that have landlords won't fix leads to massive amounts of mold. Mold is a known to cause (or trigger) asthma attacks. 

Cockroaches were also mentioned in the story. The problem with apartment complexes is that even if you try VERY hard to keep your kitchen clean, your neighbors might not be so clean. Their messy habits can lead to cockroaches, which will happily come visit your apartment too. 

The story says that in the wealthier areas, the landlords will make quickly make repairs . (They certainly don't want their rich tenants to move somewhere else!!) But in the poorer areas, the landlords may not fix the water leaks, which will lead to mold. 

The story shows rows of children in the emergency room, getting breathing treatments on the nebulizer, like the little guy in the photo above.

There's more to the story, watch it for yourself and tell me what you think.

The reporter said it was clear that it was a case of the "haves" and the "have nots." The wealthy have clean, well cared for apartments and low asthma rates. The poorer have horrible living conditions and higher rates of asthma. 

It was soooo sad to watch the kids in the story struggling to breathe, it brings back memories of when my children were younger and would end up in the hospital because they had pneumonia (again!)    

I'm thankful for my own home, that I can keep clean. And for a Hubby that knows how to fix things (properly!!!) when they leak. I wish the people in the story could have a better apartment to raise their children in. No one should have to live like that :(


  1. I don't know, how it looks in the US, but here in Poland asthma is very democratic disease: it touches poor and rich people. But poor people have worse access to education, not only about asthma and health, but also in general. Here is big problem for example in contacts with doctor - people simply don't understand, what doctors talk to them, because this kind of knowledge is too abstractive for simply people. I think that media could change this, by for example showing people with asthma in popular TV series (Polish people love soap operas :) ), but someone told that in Poland film directors choose more dramatical disease, like cancer. Greetings from city in smog :)

    1. Zim,

      That is a pretty cool idea, a soap opera about people dealing with asthma. Sounds a little bit like my life......

      I wish the doctors would explain things a little more carefully to parents, using terms the parents can understand. Asthma has some VERY strange terminology and equipment, and it takes some getting used to

  2. I feel sorry for these kids also. I’m new to this blog. I did a search on asthma and this blog came up first. Very good content. I noticed much focus on medications to manage symptoms instead of focusing on healing. Believe me, I can relate. I managed my symptoms for five years with inhalers, puffers, steroids, etc. My doctor told me there was no cure for asthma and that I would live with it for the rest of my life. All he could do is help me treat the symptoms when they flared up. With that gloomy outlook I settled in for a medicated life.
    Five years later a friend asked how I was doing. I described my life of breathing struggles and medications and he mentioned that I was doing a good job managing symptoms, then asked what I was doing to manage my healing. I was confused. I told him my doctor said I would live like this for the rest of my life. He smiled and kindly started me on a 3-step journey of healing that changed my life. It took about 3 months to notice any reduction in symptoms. In 6 months I was noticeably better which reduced my need for medications. After one year I felt no more symptoms and needed no medications. I now celebrate 20 years of living asthma symptom free. I hesitate to say “asthma free” because the condition is probably still in my body somewhere like my doctor said, however not feeling the tightness in my chest, nor experiencing the difficulty in breathing for 20 years is reason to celebrate.
    Based on my experience I suggest you begin modifying your focus from medications and managing symptoms to managing healing. There are various ways to do it. I continue to follow the three steps that help me and a few friends with asthma have tried it with similar success. I hope readers of this blog find hope in my experience that you can live asthma symptom free.

    1. Hi Rick,

      Thanks for stopping by! You have a good point, most of the professional asthma organizations will emphasize ways to change your environment and other things you can do to control your asthma.

      Medication is a small part of asthma, the environment is a BIG factor in asthma. The Environmental Protection Agency has a whole section on their website about controlling and reducing triggers

      When it comes to asthma, everyone is different. Some people may be more likely to "outgrow" asthma or have it "go into remission." But it can rear it's ugly head later.

      Others are more likely to have life-long asthma.

      WebMD has a great article on their website about it:

      Glad you are doing well!