By Mark Ballow, M.D. and President of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI)
Chances are everyone knows someone who suffers from symptoms of allergies or asthma. Take allergic rhinitis. This chronic condition affects between 10 and 30 percent of all adults, and as many as 40 percent of children. It accounts for approximately 1.5 million school days missed per year and approximately 28 million days of lost productivity. And, the problem is growing. There has been a 100 percent increase in the prevalence of allergic rhinitis in each of the last three decades in developed countries.
Or asthma. Government data show that in 2006 an estimated 12.4 million Americans had an asthma attack. Nearly 4.1 million of these breathtaking attacks were in children. The majority of these resulted in lost work or school days. Nearly $20 billion is spent annually on asthma alone.
Over 4000 patients die each year from asthma.
These are chronic conditions without cures. Yet, symptoms can
be controlled, health care dollars can be saved and people with asthma or
allergies can lead healthier lives. Proper diagnosis and effective disease man-
agement are essential; and we all have roles to play.
The American Academy of Allergy and Immunology recently renewed our commitment to better care with a special supplement in the Wall St. Journal during Asthma and Allergy Awareness month, this past May. You may link to through the AAAAI website at AAAAI.org. But the battle for better allergy and asthma care must be fought on many fronts, and that is why I welcome the entry of Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent’s Guide and AsthmaAllergiesChildren.com, particularly since Dr. Paul Ehrlich was a fellow in training with me at Walter Reed Hospital back during the Vietnam War. I certainly hope that this new approach of book and website will help spread the message that we board-certified allergists have been telling the world for so many years. Namely, that well-controlled allergies and asthma can save lives, money, and greatly increase the prospects that our children will be happier and more productive throughout their lifetimes.
Dr. Mark Ballow
Dr. Ballow is board certified in pediatrics and allergy and immunology. He received his medical training at Yale, University of Chicago, and the University of Minnesota. He recently retired from the medical faculty at the State University of New York at Buffalo and is currently President of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.