Asthma Impact

Asthma Impacts You At An Individual and Societal Level

Asthma Imact
How Is Asthma Impacting Your Life. Credit: Terry Vine / Getty Images

The impact of asthma is different on all of us. Some people may miss school or work due to their asthma or in order to care for a child or loved one with asthma. For others, asthma impacts us in different ways, like not being able to participate in certain activities. Asthma impacts not only an individual, but society as well.

Does Asthma Impact You?

More than likely, you know the impact of asthma. At the individual level, the main impact relates to symptoms, such as:

Asthma is also responsible for the following on a daily basis, some of which may have affected you individually:

There is also a bigger societal asthma impact that we must all be aware of:

  • We probably all know someone who asthma impacts. 1 in 12 people in the United States, or some 25 million people, know the impact asthma can have on their lives. With asthma so common, it is unlikely that anyone does not know at least one other person with asthma. Asthma prevalence among children is slightly higher among males compared to females (10 vs. 7%) and African-American/ multi-race children compared to white children (14/13 vs. 7%). Among adults, asthma is more common among females compared to males (11 vs. 7%) and African-American/multi-race compared to white children (11/15 vs. 9%).
  • Asthma is poorly controlled. 1 in 2 people with asthma experience an asthma attack every 12 months. Asthma is responsible for nearly a fourth of all emergency room visits. In 2009, 20% of all children with asthma had to go to an emergency department for care. African-American children are more likely to need an emergency department for care compared to white children. African-American adults are more likely to be hospitalized compared to white adults with asthma.
  • Asthma is expensive. The financial impact of asthma is nearly 56 billion dollars per year. This represents lost wages, medical costs, missed work and school, and early death resulting from asthma. The direct asthma impact on healthcare expenses is also significant. Asthma, along with acute bronchitis and pneumonia, make up 7% of all healthcare costs for children and adolescents.
  • Asthma affects quality of life. Asthma can limit our ability to get enough exercise and do things that we want and need to do.
  • Asthma impacts kids and minorities disproportionately. Nearly half of all asthma hospital admissions are in children, making it the third most common reason for hospital admissions in the pediatric age group. Death from asthma in the last 30 years has increased more than 80% among children. African Americans are three times as likely to either be hospitalized or die as a result of asthma. African American women appear to be at the highest risk. Finanacial problems also limit the ability of some to get medicines they need. More than 25% of African-American adults and 20% of Hispanic adults report that they cannot afford their asthma medication. These same groups not being able to afford to see their doctor for routine asthma care.

    The Impact of Asthma Is Growing

    Between 2001 and 2009, the number of asthmatics in the United States grew from 20 million to 25 million people. Asthma impacts 1 in 12 people now compared to 1 in 14 in 2001. In the United States 1 in 11 children or 7 million children and in in 12 or more than 18 million adults adults have asthma.

    • The rising impact of asthma appears to be most significant among African American children, with 1 in 6 African American children having asthma.
    • More than half of all asthmatics experience an asthma attack each year.
    • Nearly 60 percent of all asthmatic children have a yearly asthma exacerbation. In 2007, asthma killed 185 children and nearly 2,400 adults.
    • Half of all school children miss at least one day of school because of asthma and a third of adults miss at least one day of work.
    • Nearly 60% of asthmatics limit their physical activity because of asthma symptoms.
    • Women are more likely to die from asthma compared to me and African-Americans are 2-3 times more likely to die from asthma compared to other racial groups.

    The Healthcare System Needs To Do Better

    One of my goals for patients is that they be able to manage their asthma well. Prevention is the key all of the impacts that asthma leads to. However we may not be doing such a good job.

    While 80% of children are taught how to recognize symptoms of asthma, fewer than 70% of adults are. Only half of children have an asthma action plan adults are worse with only one in 3 having an asthma action plan.

    The Financial Impact of Asthma Is Significant

    Asthma can cause kids to miss school and cause parents to miss work. The cost of asthma is significant for you and your employer:

    • Medications are expensive for both the insured and uninsured. 1 in 9, or 11 percent, of asthmatics with insurance were unable to afford their asthma medication, compared 2 in 5 or 40 percent of uninsured asthmatics. While patient assistance programs are available and may help decrease the impact of asthma, the bottom line is that asthma medications are expensive.
    • Cost of medications are not the only asthma expense. In addition to the cost of medication, there is lost work due to asthma or having to care for a child with asthma. In the last year, nearly 60 percent of kids missed school due to their asthma symptoms, while one third of adults missed work. Over a year's time, kids missed 4 days of school during the academic year, while adults missed a full work week. This means that asthma is the leading reason for kids to miss school and the fourth leading cause of an adult to miss work. If you are not lucky enough to have a job that pays you sick leave, this could be a significant burden.
    • Asthma expenses cost our health care system. The average cost of health care expenses in the U.S. per year for an asthmatic is around $3,300. Over the last 5 years, direct medical costs related to asthma have increased nearly 2 billion dollars from 48.6 billion to 50.1 billion dollars.


    Can We Help You With Your Asthma Problems?

    I want to learn more about your asthma problems. No problem is too big or small.  Describing your biggest asthma problems not only shows you that you are not the only person with that problem, but also helps us know what is going on in the asthma community. This allows us to develop asthma content that will help you get control of your asthma.  Help our asthma community by taking our survey and letting us know your biggest asthma problem. 

    Got Questions?

    Email me your asthma questions. However, you need to understand some ground rules. Any information I provide you is only informational for your own personal education. I am not your doctor and we do not have a treatment relationship. Think of the answers as a way to have a more informed conversation with your healthcare provider.  I cannot always answer all questions, but try to do the best I can.

    Want To Join An Asthma Community?

    Our free online asthma Facebook community is a great place to connect with other patients and parents with asthma. Parents and patients ask questions and share what is going on in their asthma lives

    Please share this article with your social network using one of the social sharing buttons if you found it helpful.


    Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Accessed March 27, 2016. Asthma Facts and Figures

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed March 27, 2016. Basic Information

    Indoor Environments Division Office of Air and Radiation, Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed March 27, 2016. Asthma Facts

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