Asthma Facts and Figures

Over 235 million people worldwide have asthma, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). That number includes 25 million Americans, making it one of the most common chronic diseases in our country. Here, we offer some facts and figures to help you better understand this chronic condition.

  • What is asthma? Asthma is a condition that causes swelling of the airways, which narrows the passage through which air moves from the nose and mouth to the lungs. It can be triggered by allergens or other irritants, and symptoms include wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest, and trouble breathing. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed with the right treatment.
  • Exactly how common is asthma? Numbers like 25 million are hard to digest, and don’t tell the whole story, so let’s look at it some other ways. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that 1 in 13 people have asthma. That includes 7.7 percent of adults and 8.4 percent of children, and the numbers have been increasing since the early 1980s.
  • Who is most affected by asthma? Asthma affects more children than adults, and about 6.2 million children under the age of 18 have asthma. That’s 1 in 12 children, which makes it unsurprising that asthma is the top reason for missed school days. In fact, it’s the leading chronic disease in children. It’s more common in boys than girls but, interestingly more common in women than men.
  • How serious is asthma? Asthma can be extremely serious- even deadly. In fact, 10 Americans die every day from asthma: in 2017, 3,564 people died from asthma. Adults are four times more likely to die from asthma than children, and women are more likely to die of it than men. However, boys are more likely than girls to die of asthma.
  • What are the statistics on medical care for asthma? Most deaths from asthma could have been avoided with proper treatment. Still, more than 11.4 million people report asthma episodes or attacks annually, including more than 3 million children. This condition accounts for 9.8 million doctor’s office visits, nearly 200,000 inpatient hospital stays, and 1.8 million emergency room visits every year. It’s the third-ranking cause of hospitalization in those younger than 15 years of age.
  • Does asthma vary according to ethnicity? Asthma affects people of color African-American, Hispanic, and Indigenous people in the United States have the highest asthma rates, deaths, and hospitalizations. However, while Puerto Ricans are more likely to have asthma than any other ethnic group, African Americans are three times more likely than people of other races to be hospitalized or die from asthma. African-American children have the highest prevalence of asthma, and Black children under the age of 4 have the highest number of emergency room and urgent care visits of any group.
  • Why is asthma more common in some groups than others? Racial and ethnic disparities in asthma frequency and severity have to do with many factors. These include:
    • Structural determinants like segregation, discriminatory policies, and systemic racism
    • Social determinants like education, environment, employment, socioeconomic status, social support, and access to health care
    • Biological determinants like ancestry and genetic makeup
    • Behavioral determinants like adherence to medicines and the use of tobacco
  • How can asthma be controlled? Your doctor will come up with a plan based on factors like your age, symptoms, triggers, and the severity of your asthma. Prevention and long-term control can keep asthma attacks at bay.

Board-certified allergists are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and will give you the education, tools and confidence you need to manage your condition. At Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM, all of our physicians are board-certified in allergy, asthma and immunology and can help you identify triggers and learn to control your symptoms. Call 610-825-5800 or visit the website for an appointment, or to learn more about our available services.