(WXYZ) – Asthma is a condition in which the human airway narrows and swells making breathing difficult.

For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance. But for others, it can be a serious problem that interferes with daily activities and can lead to a life-threatening situation.

Stephen Reifman, 73, was examined by Dr. Kathleen Dass, and the grandfather of two children has been battling asthma since the age of eight.

“If you can’t breathe and think about your next breath, it takes a tremendous amount of psychological effort, it’s really like … like God, I have to breathe again,” Stephen said.

Carrying a life-saving inhaler all the time and on bad days visiting the emergency room would be the norm for Stephen, and even though things have changed since he started treatment at Dr. Das, Stephen hopes his trip can motivate others.

“You’re really worried about the ability to take the next breath, and it’s very sad that something is so fundamental that it would be like worrying about whether your heart will beat next,” Stephen said.

Dr. Das says asthma is incredibly common, “it’s every other patient I see now.” Dr Das says research also shows that asthma tends to affect women more often than men.

“People can’t go to school, they can’t perform basic daily life, they can’t go to work, it affects all aspects, it also affects their sleep,” Dr. Das said.

Dr Steve McGraw of Ascension Providence Hospital says viruses, temperature fluctuations – all combined with polluted air can make it difficult.

“We have really big industrial sites that create a lot of materials that degrade our air quality. How close are they to where people live? Can we do anything to soften what comes out of their chimneys?” Said Dr. McGraw.

A recent report by the American Lung Association on air status shows that particulate matter pollution in Detroit, which directly affects air quality, has recorded more unhealthy days with daily jumps in 2021 and has worsened slightly from previous years.

The Michigan Department of Health said it “is working to improve indoor air quality in Detroit’s childcare facilities, providing home asthma training in Wayne, Auckland and Macomb counties, and developing policies to reduce the number of idle buses and vehicles on school grounds, as well as promoting the electrification of school buses ”.

On a personal level, both doctors recommend not smoking near asthmatics, do not keep insects such as cockroaches in your home, and if possible take an allergy test, as most allergies can cause asthma.

This story was originally published from WXYZ in Detroit, Michigan.

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