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Asthma Overview
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. 
Allergic (extrinsic) asthma is characterized by symptoms that are triggered by an allergic reaction.  Allergic asthma is airway obstruction and inflammation.  Allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma, affecting over 50% of the 20 million asthma sufferers.  Over 2.5 million children under age 18 suffer from allergic asthma. Many of the symptoms of allergic and non-allergic asthma are the same (coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or rapid breathing, and chest tightness).  However, allergic asthma is triggered by inhaled allergens such as dust mite allergen, pet dander, pollen, mold, etc. resulting in asthma symptoms. Non-allergic asthma is triggered by other factors such as anxiety, stress, exercise, cold air, dry air, smoke, viruses or other irritants.
Asthma Facts
  • Asthma and allergies strike 1 out of 4 Americans.
  • Approximately 20 million Americans have asthma.
  • Nine million U.S. children under 18 have been diagnosed with asthma.
  • More than four million children have had an asthma attack in the previous year.
  • More than 70% of people with asthma also suffer from allergies.
  • 10 million Americans suffer specifically from allergic asthma.
  • The prevalence of asthma increased 75% from 1980-1994.
  • Asthma rates in children under the age of five have increased more than 160% from 1980-1994.
  • In 2004, there were 13.6 million physician office visits and 1 million outpatient department visits due to asthma.
  • Asthma accounts for one-quarter of all emergency room visits in the United States each year with 2 million emergency room visits in 2001. 
  • Approximately 44% of all asthma hospitalizations are for children.
  • There are approximately 5,000 deaths from asthma annually.
  • Direct health care costs for asthma in the United States total more than $10 billion annually; indirect costs (lost productivity) add another $8 billion for a total of $18 billion.  
  • Children 5-17 years of age missed 14.7 million school days due to asthma in 2002.
  • Asthma accounts for approximately 24.5 million missed work days for adults annually.
  • Asthma prevalence is 39% higher in African Americans than in whites.
  • The prevalence of asthma in adult females was 35% greater than the rate in males, in 2003.
  • Approximately 40% of children who have asthmatic parents will develop asthma.
  • Every day in America 40,000 people miss school or work, 30,000 people have an asthma attack, 5, 000 people visit the emergency room, 1,000 people are admitted to the hospital and 11 people die due to asthma.
Top Asthma Cities for 2009
More than 20 million children and adults live with asthma all over the U.S., making it one of the most common and costly diseases. Experts agree that people can't move away from their asthma risk since every city in America has a variety of risk factors. Instead, people should have a good asthma management plan no matter where the live.
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Birmingham, AL
  • Chattanooga, TN
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Memphis, TN
  • Knoxville, TN
  • McAllen, TX
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Little Rock, AR