More than 22 million people living in the United States have asthma, a chronic lifelong disease that affects the lungs. This includes many individuals in Shelton and the rest of the Valley. Asthma can cause wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing, according to the Naugatuck Valley Health District (NVHD), which serves Shelton. Although asthma cannot be cured, it is possible to manage asthma to reduce and prevent asthma attacks, also called episodes. In the United States, approximately half of the people with asthma had at least one asthma attack in 2012. More children (55%) than adults (49%) had an attack. Asthma attacks cause adults to miss work and children to miss school. These dangerous and sometimes life-threatening episodes reduce the quality of life for people with asthma. The good news is that we can raise awareness about asthma and how it can be controlled. People with asthma can prevent asthma attacks if they learn how to avoid asthma triggers like tobacco smoke, mold, outdoor air pollution, and colds and the flu, says the NVHD. Asthma episodes can also be prevented by using inhaled corticosteroids and other prescribed daily long-term control medicines correctly. Studies show that less than half of people with asthma report being taught how to avoid triggers. Almost half of adults who were taught how to avoid triggers did not follow most of this advice. Asthma Awareness Month To raise awareness about the health consequences and personal and financial costs of asthma, the NVHD is participating in Asthma Awareness Month in May. The NVHD joins the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Global Initiative for Asthma in encouraging people with asthma to learn more about how to control asthma and prevent asthma episodes. Free home asthma assessment The NVHD offers a free in home asthma program called Putting on Airs. The program involves having an asthma specialist and an environmental specialist come to your home and do an educational session and environmental assessment to try to identify triggers that may be making you or your child\u2019s asthma worse. The Putting on Airs staff will do a full medication review, teaching demonstrations, provide mattress and pillow covers, and coordinate care with the doctor\u2019s office. For more information contact Jenn Hettrick, RN, of the NVHD at 203-881-3255. The Naugatuck Valley Health District is the local public health entity for Shelton and five other Valley towns (Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Derby, Naugatuck and Seymour). The agency was formed in 1972 and focuses on the promotion of health, prevention of disease, and assuring a safe and clean environment.