Asthma Facts and Figures

Asthma causes swelling of the airways. This results in narrowing of the airways that carry air from the nose and mouth to the lungs. Allergens or irritating things entering the lungs trigger asthma symptoms. Symptoms include trouble breathing, wheezing, coughing and tightness in the chest. Asthma can be deadly.

  • There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed with proper prevention of asthma attacks and treatment.
  • More Americans than ever before have asthma. It is one of this country’s most common and costly diseases.

How Common Is Asthma?

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 13 people have asthma.1
  • More than 26 million Americans have asthma. This is 8.3 percent of adults and 8.3 percent of children. Asthma has been increasing since the early 1980s in all age, sex and racial groups.2
  • Asthma is more common in adult women than adult men.1
  • African-Americans in the U.S. die from asthma at a higher rate than people of other races or ethnicities.3
  • More than 11.5 million people with asthma, including nearly 3 million children, report having had one or more asthma episodes or attacks in 2015.4
  • Asthma is the leading chronic disease in children.5
  • Asthma is more common in children than adults.1
  • Asthma is more common in boys than girls.4
  • Currently, there are about 6 million children under the age of 18 with asthma.6
  • In 2015, 1 in 12 children had asthma.7
  • It is the top reason for missed school days. In 2013, about 13.8 million missed school days were reported due to asthma.6

What Are the Rates of Asthma Episodes in Children?

  • In 2015, 47.5 percent of children age 18 and younger who had asthma reported having one or more asthma attacks in the past year.4
  • According to the CDC, asthma episodes have declined in children from all races and ethnicities from 2001 through 2016.6
  • In 2016, about 50 percent of children under the age of 5 with asthma had an episode.7
  • Emergency department and urgent care center visits are highest among Black children under 4 years old.1

How Many People Get Sick from Asthma?

  • Asthma accounts for 14.2 million doctor’s office visits, 439,000 discharges from hospital inpatient care and 1.8 million emergency department visits each year.1
  • Asthma is the third-ranking cause of hospitalization among children younger than 15.9
  • African-Americans are three times more likely to be hospitalized from asthma.4

How Many People Die from Asthma?

  • Each day, ten Americans die from asthma, and in 2015, 3,615 people died from asthma. Many of these deaths are avoidable with proper treatment and care.4
  • Adults are four times more likely to die from asthma than children.4
  • Women are more likely to die from asthma than men and boys are more likely than girls.4
  • African-Americans are three times more likely to die from asthma.4

What Are the Costs of Asthma?

  • From 2008-2013, the annual economic cost of asthma was more than $81.9 billion – including medical costs and loss of work and school days:10
    • $3 billion in losses due to missed work and school days 
    • $29 billion due to asthma-related mortality, and
    • $50.3 billion in medical costs
  • The annual per-person incremental medical cost of asthma was $3,266 (in 2015 U.S. dollars). 10
  • Among children ages 5 to 17, asthma is one of the top causes of missed school days. In 2013, it accounted for more than 13.8 million missed school days.6

What Ethnic Groups Have Higher Asthma Rates?

  • See AAFA’s groundbreaking research report on Disparities in Asthma Care. It was published with the National Pharmaceutical Council.
  • Racial/ethnic differences in asthma frequency, illness and death are highly connected with poverty, city air quality, indoor allergens, not enough patient education and poor health care.
  • The rate of asthma and the prevalence of asthma episodes is highest among Puerto Ricans compared to all ethnic groups.4
  • African-American children have the highest prevalence of asthma.4
  • African-Americans in the U.S. die from asthma at a higher rate than people of other races or ethnicities.4
  • African-Americans are three times more likely to die from asthma, especially African-American women, than any other group.9
  • African-Americans are three times more likely to stay in the hospital from asthma.4
  • About 13.4 percent of African-American children have asthma, compared to about 7.4 percent of white children with asthma.4

Do Men or Women Have Higher Rates of Asthma?​

  • 9.7 percent of women aged 18 years or older have asthma, compared to 5.4 percent of men.4
  • Women are more likely to die from asthma than men.4
  • 18.4 million adults 18 years and older currently have asthma.4
  • An average of 1 out of every 12 school-aged children has asthma.6
  • 3.4 percent of children with asthma are more likely to use a hospital emergency room.6
  • Boys are more likely to have asthma than girls. But women are more likely to have asthma than men.4
  • Adults are nearly four times more likely than children to die from asthma.4

Medical Review February 2018

References

[1] CDC.gov. (2018). CDC - Asthma. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/default.htm [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].

[2] CDC.gov. (2018). CDC - Asthma - Data and Surveillance - Asthma Surveillance Data. [online] Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/asthmadata.htm [Accessed 2 Aug. 2018].

[3] National Health Interview Survey. (2018). [ebook] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Available at: https://ftp.cdc.gov/pub/Health_Statistics/NCHS/NHIS/SHS/2015_SHS_Table_A-2.pdf [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].

[4] CDC.gov. (2018). CDC - Asthma - Most Recent Asthma Data. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/most_recent_data.htm [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].

[5] CDC.gov. (2018). Asthma | Healthy Schools | CDC. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/asthma [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].

[6] Zahran, H., Bailey, C., Damon, S., Garbe, P. and Breysse, P. (2018). Vital Signs: Asthma in Children — United States, 2001–2016. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6705e1. [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018]

[7] CDC.gov. (2018). CDC Vital Signs. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns (Retrieved Feb. 9, 2018).

[8] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Asthma in Children. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/childhood-asthma/index.html [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].

[9] United States Environmental Protection Agency. Asthma Facts. May 2016 https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-05/documents/asthma_fact_sheet_english_05_2016.pdf [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].

[10] Atsjournals.org. (2018). The Economic Burden of Asthma in the United States, 2008 - 2013 | Annals of the American Thoracic Society | Articles in Press. [online] Available at: https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1513/AnnalsATS.201703-259OC  [Accessed 16 Feb. 2018].