Asthma is a disease of the lungs in which the airways become blocked or narrowed causing breathing difficulty. This chronic disease affects 20 million Americans. Asthma is commonly divided into two types: allergic (extrinsic) asthma and non-allergic (intrinsic) asthma. There is still much research that needs to be done to fully understand how to prevent, treat and cure asthma. But, with proper management, people can live healthy and active lives.
Asthma...does the word make you think of people who cough and wheeze all the time? Don't people with asthma have to avoid sports and strenuous activities? And, when it comes right down to it, isn't it "all in their heads?" If you're one of the 20 million Americans with asthma, you challenge stereotypes like these every day. Learn all you can about asthma. It's the first step toward erasing these long-held myths and living a full, active life.
Asthma is a disease in which the airways become blocked or narrowed. These effects are usually temporary, but they cause shortness of breath, breathing trouble, and other symptoms. If an asthma episode is severe, a person may need emergency treatment to restore normal breathing.
An estimated 20 million people in the United States have asthma and, despite the availability of treatments, it remains poorly controlled among many. This health problem is the reason for nearly 500,000 hospital stays each year. People with asthma can be of any race, age or sex. Its treatment costs billions of dollars each year.
Despite the far reaching effects of asthma, much remains to be learned about what causes it and how to prevent it. Although asthma can cause severe health problems, in most cases treatment can control it and allow a person to live a normal and active life.
SOURCE: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care. First created 1995; fully updated 1998; most recently updated 2005.
© Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)
- Asthma prevalence increased from 7.3% in 2001 to 8.4% in 2010, when 25.7 million persons had asthma.
- For the period 2008–2010, asthma prevalence was higher among children than adults, and among multiple-race, black, and American Indian or Alaska Native persons than white persons.
- From 2001 to 2009, health care visits for asthma per 100 persons with asthma declined in primary care settings, while asthma emergency department (ED) visit and hospitalization rates were stable.
- For the period 2007–2009, black persons had higher rates for asthma ED visits and hospitalizations per 100 persons with asthma than white persons, and a higher asthma death rate per 1,000 persons with asthma. Compared with adults, children had higher rates for asthma primary care and ED visits, similar hospitalization rates, and lower death rates.
Asthma cost the US about $3,300 per person with asthma each year from 2002 to 2007 in medical expenses, missed school and work days, and early deaths.2 • Asthma costs in the US grew from about $53 billion in 2002 to about $56 billion in 2007, about a 6% increase.2 • More than half (59%) of children and one-third (33%) of adults who had an asthma attack missed school or work because of asthma in 2008. On average, in 2008 children missed 4 days of school and adults missed 5 days of work because of asthma.2
HEALTH CARE VISITS/HOSPITAL
• In 2008, asthma hospitalizations were 1.5 times higher among female than male patients.4 • From 2001 to 2009, health care visits for asthma per 100 persons with asthma declined in primary care settings, while asthma emergency department visit and hospitalization rates were stable.5 • For the period 2007–2009, black persons had higher rates for asthma emergency department visits and hospitalizations per 100 persons with asthma than white persons, and a higher asthma death rate per 1,000 persons with asthma. Compared with adults, children had higher rates for asthma primary care and emergency department visits, similar hospitalization rates, and lower death rates.5
• More than half (53%) of people with asthma had an asthma attack in 2008. More children (57%) than adults (51%) had an attack. 185 children and 3,262 adults died from asthma in 2007.2 • Asthma was linked to 3,447 deaths (about 9 per day) in 2007.2
These are the top most challenging places to live with asthma in the U.S. That means they ranked highly for prevalence, risk, and medical factors overall.
- Knoxville, TN
- Tulsa, OK
- Milwaukee, WI
- Atlanta, GA
- Memphis, TN
- Allentown, PA
- Charlotte, NC
- Greenville, SC
Knoxville, which tops the list in 2008 (as it has 3 out of the last 5 years), was ranked #1 for the following reasons:
- high year-round pollen levels
- high levels of air pollution
- a lack of "100% smoke-free" bans for restaurants, bars or workplaces
- high level of use for quick-relief inhalers
Prevalence Factors: For these factors, experts looked at predicted rates of asthma, self-reported rates of asthma and reported asthma deaths in each area.Risk Factors: For this set of factors, experts ranked things like calculated pollen scores, air quality, public smoking laws, poverty rates, numbers of residents who didn't have health insurance, and school rules governing student access to their inhalers.Medical Factors: These factors included numbers of rescue and controller inhaler prescriptions per patient, and number of asthma, allergy, immunology and/or pulmonology specialists per 10,000 patients.