Mind and Body

Asthma Cases on the Upswing

Asthma continues to be a major health problem in the U.S., with the rate of new asthma cases increasing by almost 15 percent between 2001 and 2010, the CDC says in a new report.

Photo of young woman using an inhaler

More than 29 million adults and 10 million children suffer from asthma, and more than 3,000 people die from asthma-related complications in the U.S. each year.

Asthma is a lifelong chronic disease that causes repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing. Although both children and adults are affected by asthma, children suffer the most.

Common problem

"It is the most common reason for children to miss school, and an important cause of missed work in adults," says Jonathan Ilowite, M.D., at Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.

According to the report, in 2008, nearly 14.2 million work days and nearly 10.5 million days of school were missed were missed because of asthma.

Although fewer people are dying of asthma-related complications, the costs for medical care, lost work and school, and premature deaths reached $56 billion in 2009, according to the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Large impact

Christopher Portier, Ph.D., of the CDC, says these statistics are "a stark reminder that asthma continues to be a major public health concern with a large financial impact on families, the nation and our health care system."

Researchers say the key to controlling those costs is for both children and adults to work with their health care provider to create and follow an asthma action plan.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

Online Resources

(Our Organization is not responsible for the content of Internet sites.)

American Lung Association - Asthma Action Plan

American Lung Association - Take Control of Your Asthma

National Heart Lung, Blood Institute - Asthma Action Plan

July 2012

What's an Asthma Action Plan?

An asthma action plan lets you track your symptoms and treatments to help you better manage your condition.

An asthma action plan is separated into green, yellow, and red zones. If you are in the green zone, you don't have any symptoms. If you have mild symptoms, you are in the yellow zone and should take steps to avoid moving into the red zone. If you are in the red zone, you should call your doctor and take additional steps to ease your symptoms right away.

Here are some things you should include in an asthma action plan:

  • Peak Flow. A peak-flow meter can help you track changes in your breathing even before you have symptoms. Comparing daily measurements with your personal best number can help you note any changes.

  • Medicines. Your plan will list what medicines to take, how much to take, and when to take them. It's a good idea to keep a 30-day supply of asthma medications on hand.

  • Symptoms. You should track your symptoms throughout the day - during work or school, during exercise, and overnight.

  • Triggers. Your asthma changes with exposure to common triggers like air pollution, allergens, tobacco smoke, and the weather.

  • Emergency plan. Most important, an asthma action plan tells you and others exactly what to do if your asthma gets worse, including who to call in an emergency situation, and what medicines to take.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

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