Asthma Facts

Asthma Facts

  • Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the lung airways that causes coughing, chest tightness, wheezing or shortness of breath.
  • The number of Americans with asthma grows every year. Currently, 26 million Americans have asthma.
  • Asthma mortality is almost 4,000 deaths per year.
  • Patients with asthma reported 13.9 million visits to a doctor’s office and 1.4 million visits to hospital outpatient departments.
  • Asthma results in 456,000 hospitalizations and 2.1 million emergency room visits annually.
  • Asthma is the most common chronic illness in childhood, accounting for 10.5 million missed school days each year. It also accounts for 14.2 million lost work days for adults.
  • The estimated economic cost of asthma is $20.7 billion annually.
  • Direct medical expenditures associated with asthma, including hospital care, physicians’ services and medications, are estimated at $15.6 billion annually.
  • Indirect medical expenditures, including decreased worker productivity and lost work days for adults suffering from asthma or caring for children with asthma, and other losses total $5.1 billion annually.
  • Triggers that can initiate an asthma attack include allergens such as pollen, dust, animal dander, drugs and food additives, as well as viral respiratory infections and physical exertion.
  • Asthma is often hereditary.
  • Weather conditions such as extremely dry, wet or windy weather can worsen an asthma condition.
  • Effective asthma treatment includes monitoring the disease with a peak flow meter, identifying and avoiding allergen triggers, using drug therapies including bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory agents, and developing an emergency plan for severe attacks.
  • There are two types of asthma medications: long-term control and quick-relief medications. Long-term control medications are preventive, taken daily to achieve and maintain control of asthma symptoms. Quick-relief medications are used to treat asthma attacks. They relieve symptoms rapidly and are taken on an as-needed basis.
  • One of the most effective medications for controlling asthma is inhaled corticosteroids, which are anti-inflammatory medications. Taken early and as directed, these well-tolerated and safe medications can improve asthma control and normalize lung function.
  • Immunotherapy or allergy shots should be considered if asthma is triggered by exposure to unavoidable allergens, or if symptoms occur three days a week and more than two nights a month. The shots are especially helpful when symptoms occur year-round or are not easily controlled with medication.
  • Allergists are the medical specialists with the most expertise in treating asthma. An allergist can find the source of your suffering and stop it. To find an allergist, visit
  • The greatest rise in asthma rates is among black children with an almost 50 percent increase from 2001 through 2009.

Source:  American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.  Asthma Facts.  2014.

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