May is Asthma Awareness Month and it’s important to recognize one of the most common lifelong chronic diseases.
Asthma is a common chronic airway disorder characterized by periods of reversible airflow obstruction known as asthma attacks. Airflow is obstructed by inflammation and airway hyperreactivity (contraction of the small muscles surrounding the airways) in reaction to certain exposures. Exposures include exercise, infection, allergens (e.g., pollen), occupational exposures (e.g., chemicals), and airborne irritants (e.g., environmental tobacco smoke).
Symptoms may include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. It is not clear how to prevent asthma from developing and there is no cure. Yet the means to control and prevent exacerbations in persons who have asthma are well established in evidence-based clinical guidelines.
3,404 people died of asthma in 2010, according to the most recent national data.
In 2010, 439,000 people were discharged from the hospital with asthma as first-listed diagnosis and the average length of stay was over 3 days.
Asthma prevalence (the percentage of people who have ever been diagnosed with asthma and still have asthma) increased from 7.3% in 2001 to 8.4% in 2010. Also, an estimated 25.7 million people had asthma: 18.7 million adults and 7 million children and adolescents.
Children and adolescents had higher asthma prevalence (9.5%) than adults (7.7%) for the period 2008–2010. Females had higher asthma prevalence than males (9.2% compared with 7%).
However, data from the National Health Interview Survey show that asthma prevalence in the U.S. dropped sharply during the first nine months of 2013.
For more information on asthma: