Asthma Statistics and Facts Illustration

List of 75+ Facts and Statistics About Asthma (2024)

by | Updated: May 23, 2024

Asthma is a prevalent chronic respiratory condition affecting millions of people worldwide, significantly impacting their quality of life and posing a considerable burden on healthcare systems.

This inflammatory disorder of the airways manifests as recurring episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing.

The prevalence of asthma has been on the rise over the past few decades, with various factors, such as urbanization, environmental changes, and increased allergen exposure, contributing to this upward trend.

This article presents a comprehensive collection of facts and statistics about asthma, covering aspects such as global prevalence, risk factors, diagnosis, treatment, and the impact of asthma on individuals and society.

Facts and Statistics About Asthma

  1. Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition characterized by inflammation and narrowing of the airways, leading to breathing difficulties.
  2. Approximately 262 million people worldwide have asthma, according to the Global Asthma Report.
  3. Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children, affecting approximately 6 million children in the United States.
  4. In the United States, around 25 million people (7.7% of the population) have asthma, with 5.5 million of them being under 18 years old, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  5. Asthma prevalence is higher among females (9.8%) than males (5.5%), according to the CDC.
  6. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 455,000 deaths occurred due to asthma in 2019.
  7. Asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness, accounting for more than 13.8 million missed school days per year in the United States.
  8. The economic cost of asthma in the United States is estimated to be over $80 billion annually, including medical expenses, lost productivity, and premature deaths.
  9. Approximately 50% of people with asthma have allergic asthma, meaning their symptoms are triggered by allergens such as pollen, dust mites, or pet dander.
  10. Asthma can be classified into four severity levels: intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent, and severe persistent.
  11. The prevalence of asthma has increased by 15% over the last 20 years, possibly due to factors such as environmental changes, increased allergen exposure, and urbanization.
  12. According to the CDC, non-Hispanic Black children have the highest prevalence of asthma (14.1%) compared to non-Hispanic White (7.4%) and Hispanic (6.4%) children in the United States.
  13. Genetic factors play a role in asthma, as children with a family history of the condition are three to six times more likely to develop it themselves.
  14. Indoor air pollution, such as tobacco smoke, mold, and chemicals, can worsen asthma symptoms or even trigger asthma development in predisposed individuals.
  15. The WHO estimates that 80% of asthma-related deaths occur in low- and lower-middle-income countries, where access to proper care and medications is limited.
  16. Approximately 60% of people with asthma can achieve good control of their symptoms through proper management, including medication and avoidance of triggers.
  17. Asthma medications include quick-relief inhalers (bronchodilators) and long-term control medications, such as inhaled corticosteroids and leukotriene modifiers.
  18. Asthma-related hospitalization rates are three times higher for Black Americans than for White Americans, according to the American Lung Association.
  19. Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), a temporary narrowing of the airways during or after exercise, affects around 90% of people with asthma and 10% of the general population.
  20. Climate change has been linked to worsening asthma symptoms, as increased temperatures, air pollution, and allergen levels can exacerbate respiratory issues.
  21. In the United Kingdom, approximately 5.4 million people are currently receiving treatment for asthma, including 1.1 million children.
  22. Secondhand smoke exposure is a significant risk factor for developing asthma, especially in children. The CDC reports that around 40% of children with asthma are exposed to secondhand smoke.
  23. Asthma exacerbations (flare-ups) can be triggered by various factors, including viral infections, cold air, physical exertion, stress, and air pollutants.
  24. Obesity is a known risk factor for asthma development and severity, as excess weight can increase inflammation and make it more difficult to breathe.
  25. According to the WHO, asthma is underdiagnosed and undertreated, leading to a significant burden on individuals and their families.
  26. Workplace-related asthma, also known as occupational asthma, affects an estimated 15% of adult asthma cases, resulting from exposure to allergens or irritants in the workplace.
  27. The Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) was founded in 1993 to reduce the global burden of asthma through collaboration, education, and research.
  28. Asthma self-management education, such as learning how to use an inhaler correctly and understanding an asthma action plan, can significantly improve patients’ quality of life and reduce healthcare utilization.
  29. Premature birth (before 37 weeks of gestation) is associated with an increased risk of developing asthma in childhood.
  30. Asthma is a leading cause of emergency department visits, with over 1.7 million asthma-related visits occurring in the United States annually, according to the CDC.
  31. Asthma has been linked to an increased risk of sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and insomnia, due to nighttime breathing difficulties and the impact of medication side effects.
  32. A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that children who grow up with a dog in the home may have a lower risk of developing asthma.
  33. Exposure to air pollution, particularly high levels of particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), has been associated with both the development of asthma and exacerbation of symptoms in existing cases.
  34. A large-scale study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine found that vitamin D supplementation could help reduce the risk of asthma exacerbations.
  35. Inhaled corticosteroids, the primary long-term control medication for asthma, can have side effects such as oral thrush and hoarseness, but these risks are generally outweighed by the benefits of effective asthma control.
  36. Asthma can be diagnosed through various tests, including spirometry (which measures airflow in the lungs), peak flow measurement, and bronchial challenge tests.
  37. Consuming a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may be associated with a reduced risk of developing asthma in adulthood.
  38. The Hygiene Hypothesis suggests that early childhood exposure to certain microbes and allergens can help develop a more robust immune system, potentially reducing the risk of asthma and other allergic conditions.
  39. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 5-10% of asthma cases are classified as severe asthma, which is more difficult to control with standard medications and may require more aggressive treatments such as biologic therapies.
  40. Studies have shown that breastfeeding may provide some protection against the development of asthma in early childhood due to the immune-boosting properties of breast milk.
  41. A study published in JAMA Network found that children who lived in greener areas had a lower risk of developing asthma, potentially due to reduced exposure to air pollution and increased opportunities for outdoor physical activity.
  42. Asthma can have a significant impact on mental health, with people who have the condition being more likely to experience anxiety and depression compared to the general population.
  43. In some cases, asthma symptoms can be improved or even resolved over time, a phenomenon known as “asthma remission.” However, the condition may still return later in life, especially if it was severe during childhood.
  44. Environmental tobacco smoke is a major trigger for asthma, with research suggesting that even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to a decline in lung function in people with asthma.
  45. The use of air purifiers and dehumidifiers in the home can help reduce indoor allergen levels and improve asthma control for some individuals.
  46. A study found that people with asthma often experience a worsening of symptoms due to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen.
  47. A study found that people with asthma who practiced yoga experienced improved lung function, reduced asthma symptoms, and a better overall quality of life.
  48. In addition to standard diagnostic tests, asthma severity and control can be assessed using tools such as the Asthma Control Test (ACT) and the Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ), which help healthcare providers evaluate patients’ symptoms and guide treatment decisions.
  49. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, there is no known cure for asthma, but with proper management, most individuals can achieve good symptom control and lead normal, active lives.
  50. Studies have found that urbanization is associated with an increased prevalence of asthma, likely due to higher levels of air pollution, reduced green spaces, and increased exposure to indoor allergens in densely populated areas.
  51. Research has shown that airway remodeling, a structural change in the lungs due to chronic inflammation, can occur in individuals with poorly controlled asthma, potentially leading to irreversible lung function decline.
  52. People with asthma are at a higher risk of developing complications from respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia, making vaccinations particularly important for this population.
  53. Thunderstorm asthma, a rare but serious phenomenon, can occur when high pollen levels and stormy weather conditions cause a sudden, widespread worsening of asthma symptoms in a population.
  54. Studies found that women who took oral contraceptives had a reduced risk of developing asthma, suggesting a potential protective effect of estrogen.
  55. In some cases, asthma can be difficult to distinguish from other respiratory conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or vocal cord dysfunction, which may require additional diagnostic testing to confirm a proper diagnosis.
  56. According to the Global Asthma Network, low-income countries generally have higher mortality rates from asthma compared to high-income countries, with 50% of asthma-related deaths worldwide occurring in the African region.
  57. Research has shown that exposure to traffic-related air pollution during pregnancy may increase the risk of asthma development in offspring, highlighting the importance of reducing air pollution for public health.
  58. The use of digital health tools, such as smartphone apps for tracking symptoms, medication adherence, and environmental triggers, can help individuals with asthma better manage their condition and improve communication with healthcare providers.
  59. Exposure to high levels of stress during pregnancy may increase the risk of asthma development in children.
  60. A study found that people with asthma who consumed a higher amount of processed meat were more likely to have poorly controlled symptoms.
  61. Swimming is often recommended as an ideal exercise for individuals with asthma, as the warm, humid air in indoor pools can help reduce airway irritation and promote better lung function.
  62. Some individuals with asthma may experience a worsening of symptoms due to certain food additives, such as sulfites, which are commonly found in processed foods, dried fruits, and alcoholic beverages.
  63. According to a study, people with asthma who practiced breathing exercises derived from the Buteyko method experienced improvements in asthma control and reduced medication use.
  64. In some cases, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can trigger or worsen asthma symptoms, making it essential for individuals with both conditions to receive appropriate treatment for GERD.
  65. Research has shown that individuals with poorly controlled asthma may have an increased risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks or strokes, due to the systemic inflammation associated with the condition.
  66. The use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) can exacerbate asthma symptoms and impair lung function, emphasizing the importance of avoiding e-cigarette use for individuals with asthma.
  67. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends using integrated pest management (IPM) strategies to control pests such as cockroaches and rodents, as their allergens can trigger asthma symptoms in sensitive individuals.
  68. Asthma can impact an individual’s quality of life, leading to limitations in daily activities, sports participation, and social interactions due to the fear of triggering symptoms or exacerbations.
  69. According to the American Thoracic Society, individuals with severe asthma are at an increased risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a sleep disorder characterized by disrupted breathing during sleep.
  70. Asthma prevalence rates can vary by ethnicity, with Indigenous populations in some countries experiencing higher rates of asthma and poorer asthma outcomes compared to non-Indigenous populations.
  71. A study found that people with asthma who practiced mindfulness meditation experienced a reduction in stress and improvements in asthma-related quality of life.
  72. Research has suggested that the use of certain cleaning products and air fresheners, particularly those containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), can exacerbate asthma symptoms and contribute to poor indoor air quality.
  73. Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), a treatment for certain types of allergies, has been shown to improve asthma symptoms and reduce the need for medication in some individuals with allergic asthma.
  74. Asthma can sometimes coexist with other respiratory conditions, such as bronchiectasis or cystic fibrosis, making proper diagnosis and management more complex.
  75. According to the CDC, tobacco smoke is a major indoor air pollutant and a leading cause of preventable death worldwide, affecting not only smokers but also individuals with asthma who are exposed to secondhand smoke.

Final Thoughts

Asthma is a complex and widespread respiratory condition that affects a diverse range of individuals across the globe. With its multifaceted etiology and varying degrees of severity, asthma presents unique challenges for patients, healthcare providers, and researchers.

Despite advances in diagnosis and treatment, asthma continues to impose a significant burden on the lives of those affected and on healthcare systems.

Raising awareness of the condition, its risk factors, and triggers, as well as promoting effective management strategies, is crucial to reducing the impact of asthma.

Continued research and collaboration among medical professionals, researchers, and policymakers will be vital in working towards a future with improved asthma prevention, control, and ultimately, a potential cure.

John Landry, BS, RRT

Written by:

John Landry, BS, RRT

John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.

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