Today is World Asthma Day – did you know that? It’s a day to make everyone aware of what asthma is. If you think it is just a little wheezing; if you think that asthma is just an inability to catch your breath when you are climbing a hill, or running to catch the bus – think again.
Asthma can affect people of all ages, although it usually starts when young. It does run in families. All sorts of things can aggravate the condition, pollen or allergies (which is why doctors are so busy right now in the spring!) and “bad air” – air that contains particulates or pollution that irritates airways in the lungs, which causes narrowing of the airways and make breathing harder and harder.
Asthma rates are increasing yearly. According to a report on MedicineNet.com
A study reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (1999; 159:125-29) evaluated a group of patients at two points in time, 30 years apart. The study performed by doctors in Scotland detected a significant increase in symptoms of allergic asthma and levels of antibodies to environmental allergic factors, such as dust mites, pets, and air pollutants over the three decades. Importantly, the researchers noted that there was an increase in the signs and symptoms of allergy, even in people without a family history of allergy!
Did you know that people die from the effects of asthma? According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (and I copied this, because I find it pretty stunning and didn’t want to make a mistake)
- Approximately 34.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma by a health professional during their lifetime.1
- An estimated 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, with 250,000 annual deaths attributed to the disease.2
- Workplace conditions, such as exposure to fumes, gases or dust, are responsible for 11% of asthma cases worldwide.2
- About 70% of asthmatics also have allergies.2
- The prevalence of asthma increased 75% from 1980-1994.3
- Asthma rates in children under the age of five have increased more than 160% from 1980-1994.3
- It is estimated that the number of people with asthma will grow by more than 100 million by 2025.2
- Asthma accounts for approximately 500,000 hospitalizations each year.5
- 13 million school days are missed each year due to asthma.5
- Asthma accounts for about 10.1 million missed work days for adults annually.5
- Asthma was responsible for 3,384 deaths in the United States in 2005.6
- The annual economic cost of asthma is $19.7 billion. Direct costs make up $14.7 billion of that total, and indirect costs such as lost productivity add another $5 billion.1
- Prescription drugs represented the largest single direct medical expenditure related to asthma, over $6 billion.1
- In 2006, asthma prevalence was 20.1% higher in African Americans than in whites.1
- The prevalence of asthma in adult females was 23% greater than the rate in males, in 2006.1
- Approximately 40% of children who have asthmatic parents will develop asthma.4
- In 2005, 8.9% of children in the United States currently had asthma.8
- Nine million U.S. children under 18 have been diagnosed with asthma at some point in their lifetime.8
- Nearly 4 million children have had an asthma attack in the previous year.8
- More than 12 million people in the United States report having an asthma attack in the past year.7
- Asthma accounts for 217,000 emergency room visits and 10.5 million physician office visits every year.9
- In 2006, almost 2.5 million people over the age of 65 had asthma, and more than 1 million had an asthma attack or episode.1
- In a survey of U.S. homes, approximately one-quarter had levels of dust mite allergens present in a bed at a level high enough to trigger asthma symptoms.10
- In 2007, 29% of children who had a food allergy also had asthma.11
- Asthma increases the odds of healthcare use in obese people by 33%.12
- About 23 million people, including almost 7 million children, have asthma.13
- Approximately 2 million Hispanics in the U.S. have asthma. 14
- Asthma is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization among children under 15.15
- An average of one out of every 10 school-aged child has asthma.16
- Annual expenditures for health and lost productivity due to asthma are estimated at over $20 billion, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
This isn’t just a medical issue – it’s a budget issue. Another fact – one of the medical reasons to be turned down for military service – asthma!
From all the studies that have been done, one inescapable fact is – with a rise in air pollution, there has been a correlational rise in asthma rates. The Clean Air Act has done a good job of cleaning up the air in major cities and can do more, if we make sure that it continues to be in effect! Our air is worth it. Our kids lungs are worth it.
See, this is why I’m a member of Mom’s Clean Air Force!