Welcome to Jackson, MS, a city with a harsh reality for those with asthma. Despite its southern charm and rich history, Jackson has been deemed the worst place to live with asthma in the state. Every year, residents of this city face the struggle of breathing in polluted air. That can trigger asthma attacks and exacerbate existing conditions.
Let’s dive into and learn more about the unique challenges of living with asthma in Jackson, where the beauty of the city is often overshadowed by the dangers in the air.
What Causes Asthma?
Millions of individuals worldwide suffer from asthma, a prevalent respiratory ailment. This chronic illness leads to airway inflammation, which can cause breathing difficulties. But what causes asthma in the first place? Well, there isn’t a single answer to this question. In fact, there are many factors that can contribute to the development of asthma.
Some possible causes include genetics, environmental factors, and exposure to irritants like smoke, dust, and pollen. For some, asthma may develop during childhood, while others may not experience symptoms until adulthood.
Although the exact cause of asthma may vary from person to person, one thing is for sure — managing the condition requires a proactive approach to minimize triggers and control symptoms.
What Factors Cause Asthma In Jackson, Mississippi?
There’s no straight answer for why people have asthma in Jackson, MS. A combination of factors may contribute to the condition, though.
The city of Jackson experiences a long season of high temperatures and humidity. That’s because of its location in a humid, subtropical climate zone. Unfortunately, this weather pattern can contribute to the development and worsening of asthma symptoms in those who are susceptible to the condition.
The warm and humid environment provides an ideal breeding ground for allergens like mold and dust mites. Those can trigger respiratory distress and asthma attacks.
Pollution from industrial activities and heavy traffic congestion contribute to high levels of particulate matter in the air. That can irritate the airways and trigger asthma symptoms. Unfortunately, the “State of the Air” report found that Jackson’s year-round particle pollution levels have worsened in previous years, ranking the area as the 56th most polluted for year-round particle pollution in 2021.
Use Of Toabbco
Tobacco use is a widespread problem in Mississippi, affecting the respiratory health of its residents. That goes more so for those living with asthma in Jackson. Shocking statistics reveal that 21.4% of high school students in Mississippi use e-cigarettes. Further, 34.2% of cancer deaths in the state are attributable to smoking.
The prevalence of tobacco use not only exacerbates asthma symptoms but also increases the risk of other respiratory problems.
Where is Mississippi’s Worst Town for Asthma Located on a Map?
The worst town for allergy sufferers in Mississippi is the capital city of Jackson, located in the central region of the state, close to the Louisiana border. It lies in a warm, humid region of flat terrain that offers little relief for people with asthma.
Living with Asthma in Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson, MS, is indeed one of the worst places to live with asthma in the United States. According to rankings, the city has placed 47th in the most challenging places to live in the country for people with asthma.
To better understand why, let’s take a closer look into the various factors contributing to this city’s challenging environment for asthma sufferers.
Poverty & Lack of Access to Healthcare
Jackson has one of the highest poverty rates among major U.S. cities. That can lead to a lack of access to healthcare, including preventive care and asthma management resources. Without access to proper treatment and medication, asthma sufferers in Jackson may be at greater risk for asthma attacks and complications.
High Rates of Asthma Medication Use
According to a report by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), Jackson ranks eighth in the nation for the highest rates of asthma controller medication use. While this may seem like a positive indicator, it actually means that many people in Jackson are struggling to control their asthma symptoms with medication. That highlights the severity of the asthma problem in the city.
Deadly Asthma-Related Incidents
Jackson ranks third in the nation for asthma-related deaths. Mississippi has long fluctuated among the top states for asthma-related fatalities. In 2016, it saw the most deaths from asthma per capita in the United States. Jackson stands out from other neighboring cities in terms of asthma-related fatalities despite the similar environmental triggers and high rates of asthma prevalence they share.
Limited Asthma Management Programs
While there are asthma management programs available in Jackson, they may be limited in scope and accessibility, particularly for those living in poverty or without health insurance. For individuals with asthma, it can be a challenge to access the necessary care and support to effectively manage their symptoms.
Jackson is known for its high levels of air pollution and humid climate, which can be major environmental triggers for asthma. The city also experiences high pollen counts, especially during the spring months, which can trigger asthma symptoms.
In 2019, a report revealed that 14% of adults in the Jackson area were living with chronic lung disease, and 8% had COPD, asthma, or both. However, given the continuous increase in air pollution and other factors contributing to respiratory issues in the city, these numbers may be significantly higher in 2023.
Asthma Symptoms in Jackson, Mississippi
In Jackson, MS, the prevalence of asthma is high, with a significant portion of the population experiencing symptoms that interfere with their daily activities. Here are some common asthma symptoms that residents of Jackson may experience.
Wheezing (Whistling Sound)
Wheezing is a common asthma symptom, especially during an asthma attack. It is a high-pitched, whistling sound that occurs when the airways in the lungs become narrow or inflamed, making breathing difficult.
Coughing is another common symptom of asthma. It may be a dry cough, or it may produce mucus. Coughing can be triggered by various factors, including allergens, exercise, or cold air.
Another indication of asthma is rapid breathing or shortness of breath. This happens when the airways in the lungs become constricted, obstructing the smooth flow of air in and out of the lungs.
Frequent Colds or Respiratory Infections
People with asthma are more susceptible to respiratory infections, such as colds, flu, or pneumonia. These infections can worsen asthma symptoms and trigger an asthma attack.
Frequent Night Coughing
Nighttime coughing is a common symptom of asthma, and it can be disruptive to sleep. It occurs because the airways in the lungs become more narrow at night, making it difficult to breathe.
Coughing After Running Or Crying
Physical activity or strong emotions can trigger asthma symptoms, such as coughing. If you or someone you know experiences coughing after running or crying, it may be a sign of asthma.
Asthma Treatments In Jackson, Mississippi
There is no cure for asthma. There are, though, various treatments available to help manage its symptoms and improve the quality of life for those suffering from it.
Inhalers are a common treatment for asthma that delivers medication directly to the lungs, helping to reduce inflammation and open up airways. There are two types of inhalers: rescue inhalers, which are used for immediate relief of asthma symptoms, and maintenance inhalers, which are used to prevent symptoms from occurring.
Nebulizers provide an alternative method for administering medication directly to the lungs. They operate by converting liquid medication into a fine mist, which is then inhaled using a mouthpiece or mask. Like inhalers, nebulizers can be used for both immediate relief and long-term control of asthma symptoms.
In addition to inhalers and nebulizers, there are oral medications available to treat asthma. These medications are typically used for long-term control of symptoms and work by reducing inflammation in the airways. Common oral medications for asthma include leukotriene modifiers, theophylline, and long-acting beta-agonists.
For people whose asthma is triggered by allergens, allergy shots may be a helpful treatment option. Allergy shots work by gradually exposing the body to small amounts of an allergen, helping build immunity and reduce the severity of asthma symptoms over time.
Besides medication-based treatments, various lifestyle changes can help manage asthma symptoms. These include avoiding triggers such as cigarette smoke, dust, and pet dander, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising regularly.
Tips for Asthma Prevention in Jackson, Mississippi
Here are some helpful tips to prevent asthma in Jackson, MS, and to reduce the impact of environmental factors and allergens that trigger asthma symptoms.
- Stay indoors during days with high levels of air pollution or pollen.
- Keep windows and doors closed during high pollen count days.
- Use an air purifier in your home to filter out allergens and pollutants.
- Keep your home clean and dust-free by vacuuming regularly and using dust-proof covers for bedding.
- Use a dehumidifier and keep indoor humidity levels between 30-50%.
- Avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Take medications as prescribed by your doctor to manage asthma symptoms.
- Keep an asthma action plan in place, which includes emergency contact information, a list of triggers, and steps to take in case of an asthma attack.
- Get a flu shot each year to prevent flu-related asthma exacerbations.
- Exercise regularly to maintain good lung health, but avoid exercising outdoors during high pollution or pollen days.
- Consult your doctor to identify and manage your individual asthma triggers.
Can Animals Be Affected By Asthma?
Just like humans, animals can also suffer from asthma. Animals with asthma exhibit symptoms such as coughing and wheezing, with respiratory distress being less common.
Asthma can affect any animal, although it is more frequently observed in cats than dogs. Breathing issues are more common in animals with flat faces, and smaller dog breeds are particularly vulnerable to asthma.
Asthma, an allergic disease that affects the airways, is relatively uncommon in dogs compared to cats. When dogs experience an asthma attack, their immune system reacts to a particular trigger, causing inflammation and constriction of the small airways in the lungs. The disease typically affects middle-aged and young dogs, with small dogs being more susceptible than larger breeds.
To manage and prevent long-term lung damage caused by asthma attacks in dogs, anti-inflammatory steroid medications may be recommended depending on the severity and frequency of the symptoms. Asthma attacks can potentially lead to permanent lung damage, making it crucial to take the symptoms seriously and seek veterinary care.
In cats, asthma is primarily caused by inhaling allergens but can also be triggered by stress. During a severe asthma attack, you may observe your cat’s sides moving in and out as they struggle to breathe, and your cat may drool or cough up mucus. These symptoms can cause extreme anxiety in your cat.
If your cat is diagnosed with asthma, your vet may prescribe a bronchodilator to help dilate the airways and corticosteroid medications to reduce inflammation in the lungs. These medications can be administered through injectables, oral medications, or inhalers, as per your vet’s recommendation.
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