About Asthma

Asthma is a common disease in which the lungs become swollen, making breathing difficult. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. The exact causes of asthma are not known. Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled.

Asthma is a leading cause of emergency room visits, hospitalizations and missed school days in New York City’s poorest neighborhoods. In NYC, asthma is more common among low-income Black and Latino children.

Asthma and the Environment

Certain things in the environment can trigger an asthma attack or make symptoms worse. Common triggers include:

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Air pollution, such as particulates, ozone and diesel exhaust
  • Dust mites, cockroaches and mold
  • Pollen
  • Pets

Controlling Asthma

Asthma does not have to prevent you from leading an active and healthy life. You can take charge by having a plan to control asthma, including these strategies for avoiding asthma triggers:

  • Check the weather report daily for air pollution level (“air quality index”) and pollen counts. Limit time outside when air pollution levels or pollen counts are high.
  • If you smoke, quit. Don’t allow smoking in your home or car.
  • Remove clutter and clean regularly to reduce dust levels in your home.
  • Work with your landlord to fix leaks promptly to prevent mold. If your landlord fails to fix the problem, call 311.
  • Do not allow furry pets on the furniture or in the bedroom.
  • Pest proof your home. If building conditions may be attracting pests, contact your landlord. If your landlord does not address your concerns, call 311.
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