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Asthma fast facts

Asthma is one of the most serious health problems:

  • About 34 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with asthma, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. The number could be much higher when accounting for undiagnosed cases. The number of Americans with asthma has increased dramatically since 1980, becoming a leading reason for hospital admissions. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.)
  • Asthma often begins in childhood.
  • Asthma accounts yearly for:
    • 100 million restricted activity days
    • Over 13 million missed school days
    • About 11 million office visits
    • 200,000 emergency department visits
    • About 500,000 hospitalizations
    • More than 3,000 deaths

"Control" drugs prevent emergencies:

  • For people who have had an asthma-related emergency room visit, use of inhaled steroids reduces the chance of another emergency room visit by half. (Archives of Internal Medicine, July 2002.)

Control drugs are under-used:

  • Only 25% of people who should be using anti-inflammatory medicines for long-term control actually report using them, according to one study. (Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, July 2002.)
  • Use of inhaled steroids on a regular basis by people with asthma would likely reduce most hospitalizations and deaths. (Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, July 2002.)

Doctors and patients need to work together:

  • A study of over 6,700 people with asthma showed poor compliance to the NIH asthma guidelines. Many people were not adequately reducing their exposure to asthma triggers. The study also found that people who've had asthma for a few years were more likely to have poor compliance. (Journal Eval. Clinical Practice, May 1999.)

"Peak flow" is a useful habit:

  • Studies have shown that properly instructed patients find they like to monitor the "status" of their asthma. Some people prefer to monitor their symptoms, while others find peak flow to be more helpful. (Thorax 1995, Australian/NZ Journal of Medicine 1994)

Spacers make MDIs more effective:

  • Using a spacer with an MDI has the following benefits: the "technique" of using an MDI is easier, more of the drug gets into the lungs, and there are less unpleasant side effects. (Thorax 1995, NAEPP Practical Guide 1997)

Consider summer camp:

  • Asthma camps can be a fun and effective way for children to develop good asthma management habits. (Journal of Family Practice, Nov 1995.)

Additional reference

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). The Allergy Report: Science Based Findings on the Diagnosis & Treatment of Allergic Disorders, 1996-2001. Milwaukee, Wis: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI); 2001. (2007 updated version available online at