Asthma symptoms affect an estimated 26 million Americans, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. And asthma cases in Central Florida exceed the national average, with rates among the Hispanic population particularly prevalent due to lack of adequate access to care.
That’s why a group of UCF medical students are conducting a free screening program, “Asthma Awareness Inspires Relief”, to identify those in the community who may be at risk. The screening, funded by ACAAI, will take place this Saturday, October 21 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Lake Nona Community Farmers Market at Valencia College.
Jasmine Capers, a second-year med student, said this was a way for her to address health disparities among the underserved.
“Although there are many effective treatments available for asthma, people from lower socioeconomic classes tend to have a higher asthma morbidity,” she said. “This shows that people are still overlooked in our healthcare system, which makes having healthcare screenings in the community even more vital.”
Asthma can be triggered by stress or exercise, but also by outdoor allergens, such as pollen, smoke or wet weather, or indoor allergens like mold. It has no known cure, but symptoms can be treated.
Screenings take about 15 minutes, and test how well the lungs are functioning through spirometry – a test measuring how much air passes through the lungs, and how quickly air is exhaled.
“We want to provide an enjoyable and fun atmosphere for kids and adults alike to take charge of their health in a way that is accessible and affordable,” said Morgan Beebe, a third-year med student coordinating the event.
The students will be supported by Dr. Santiago Martinez, a local allergist.
“There’s a need for education and awareness of this disease in our community,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that we took advantage of this opportunity.”
Those showing signs of asthma will be referred to a specialist for long-term care, and given educational materials to help them determine their next course of action.
“A lot of people have heard about asthma, but don’t know much about it,” said Jessica Daniel, a second-year med student. “An event like this gives the public a chance to talk to healthcare providers directly and clear up any misconceptions about this very common condition.”