Living with Asthma: A daily struggle to avoid triggers that cause attacks

Sinclair Broadcast Group

More than 26 million Americans have asthma and causes 10 deaths every day in the U.S.

Lorrie Justice tries to stay carefree, but she never knows when an asthma attack will hit.

When it does, she suddenly has to pour all her energy into preserving the most basic function of life.

"You can't get a breath in, you can't get a breath out," explained Justice who suffers from asthma. "It almost feels like you're breathing through one of those coffee stirrer straws."

Justice has had asthma since she was six months old. She even had to repeat third grade because the disease was so severe.

"Oh it was very scary," said Justice, "There were several times when they thought I would not live."

"It's huge. It's the most common chronic disease in childhood," said Dr. Stephen Kimura, an allergist who often treats patients for asthma. "It causes over $50 billion in medical costs each year"

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 13 people have the chronic disease.

Dr. Kimura says symptoms can range from mild and even mysterious, like an itching in the chest, to severe cases like Lorrie's that send people to intensive care.

The specific cause is not known, but the triggers are.

"I'm allergic to over 30 pollen like grass pollen, oak, and pine," said Justice.

Allergies are the most common trigger. Others include pollution, chemical fumes, and smoke. Anxiety and stress can also be triggers.

Justice said, "there are things that trigger that you can't avoid."

Dr. Kimura says even if people are having mild symptoms, they should see a doctor. "Unfortunately, we have about 10 people die from asthma every day, which is amazing and it should not be."

Lorrie carries a rescue inhaler wherever she goes, keeps up with her medications, and avoids the triggers as she can.

There's no cure for asthma, but her life and her smile offer hope.

"It’s okay to live with asthma, you can deal with it," said Justice.