May is not only Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month, it’s also Celiac Awareness Month. Established in 1984, National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month is a great time to educate people about these diseases, because it’s a peak season for people with asthma and allergies. Celiac has no season, but May is the month designated to help raise awareness and funds to accelerate celiac disease research.
Did you know that over 60 million Americans have asthma and allergies? About 19 million adults and 6 million children have asthma, while 26 million adults and 6 million children have food allergies. Another 20 million adults and 5.6 million children have hay fever, rhinitis, or nasal allergies. These conditions are often challenging to manage, but they’re also somewhat misunderstood.
That’s why raising awareness is so important. So what can you do to take part in this campaign? There are plenty of resources and opportunities available through the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), the World Allergy Organization (WAO), or the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA). Maybe you’ll participate in a photo contest, use social media to share information, or attend virtual awareness events. You might even decide to take part in research and clinical trials designed to expand treatment. You could find ways to advocate for support politically, or simply wear a gray ribbon for asthma or a teal ribbon for allergies.
The organizations behind Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month have organized May into specific days and weeks. These include:
- Air Quality Awareness Week, May 1–7: The first week of May, the EPA encourages people to raise awareness of air quality in our communities. Each day has a different theme, to help people understand air quality, since pollution and poor air quality can trigger the symptoms of allergies and asthma.
- National FPIES Awareness Day is May 4th: Food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome is a severe kind of food allergy. It affects the intestines and can result in vomiting and diarrhea or even dehydration and shock.
- World Asthma Day is May 5th: Typically the first Tuesday of the month, this day is dedicated to the discussion of new research, statistics, treatments, funding, and quality of life for people living with asthma. There are resources available to be downloaded and presented at World Asthma Day events.
- National Eosinophil Awareness Week, May 17-24: Eosinophilic disorders, including eosinophilic asthma, are the focus of the third week in May. Eosinophilic asthma involves elevated levels of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell that fights infections, bacteria, and certain parasites, in the blood, lung tissue, and mucus.
While you’re advocating and raising awareness of asthma and allergies, don’t forget about celiac disease. A serious autoimmune disease that affects about 3 million Americans, celiac disease is still unknown to many people. It’s a terrible disease, though, weaponizing gluten and causing devastating effects. Anemia, anxiety, infertility, the inability to absorb nutrients, osteoporosis, and an increased risk of diabetes and cancer are all part and parcel of this brutal illness. So how can you help raise awareness, as well as funding?
- Share: If you suffer from celiac, share your story. You can also visit BeyondCeliac.org to find great resources to share, like infographics, news stories, and videos. Social media can be powerful, and as more people share information, more people will understand the truth about celiac disease.
- Donate: You can donate directly, or encourage others to do so by having a Facebook fundraiser on your birthday or just in honor of Celiac Awareness Month. Those are two really easy ways to raise money that will fund celiac research, but if you give it some thought, you can probably think of many more ways!
- Join: BeyondCeliac.org supports a unique online community aimed at collecting and compiling individual stories about celiac disease, in order to help find a cure. That’s one great place to plug in, but there are plenty of others, too, so look around your community for ways to get involved.
Whether you’re facing the challenges of allergies, asthma, or celiac disease, enlisting the help of an experienced, board-certified allergist will give you confidence that your doctor can help you find the solutions you need to manage your condition. At Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM, all of our physicians are board-certified in allergy and immunology and can help you identify triggers and learn to control your symptoms. Call 610-825-5800 or visit the website for an appointment, or to learn more about our available services.