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Asthma Facts and Goals

Asthma is a reversible obstructive lung disease, when the lungs are especially sensitive to various stimuli. These "triggers" range from viral infections to allergies, to irritating gases and particles in the air.  Each person reacts differently to the factors that may trigger asthma.

Asthma breathing problems usually happen in "episodes," but the inflammation underlying asthma is continuous.  An asthma episode is a series of events that result in narrowed airways. These include: swelling of the lining, tightening of the muscle, and increased secretion of mucus in the airway. The narrowed airway is responsible for the difficulty in breathing with the familiar "wheeze."

Asthma can be a life-threatening disease if not properly managed!

  • In 2002 it was estimated that 20 million Americans currently have asthma.  Of these, 11.9 million Americans (4.2 million children under 18) had an asthma attack or episode during that same year.
    Source: National Center for Health Statistics. Raw Data from the National Health Interview Survey (Analysis by the American Lung Association)
  • In 2001, there were 4,269 deaths attributed to asthma, with almost all of them being preventable. That is more than 11 people per day!
  • Source: National Center for Health Statistics. Report of Final Mortality Statistics
  • Close to 1.9 million emergency room visits were attributed to asthma in 2002.
    Source: National Center for Health Statistics. National Ambulatory Medical Survey
  • Some asthma medications help reduce underlying inflammation in the airways and relieve or prevent airway narrowing. Control of inflammation should lead to reduction in airway sensitivity and help prevent airway obstruction. Control of inflammation is the key!

  • Despite the numerous drugs available, asthma is still poorly controlled. A recent survey found that 48 percent of people with asthma say that the disease limits their ability to take part is sports and recreation, 36 percent say it limits their normal physical exertion and 25 percent say it interferes with their social activities.
    Source: Asthma in America Survey Project


Don't settle for less!
A person with asthma should expect the following:

  • No emergency room visits due to asthma

  • No overnight hospital stays because of asthma

  • No missed school or work due to asthma

  • Normal or near normal level of physical activity

  • No interruptions in sleep from coughing or shortness of breath

  • Use of rescue / reliever inhaler minimal, less than two times a week or only pre-exercise.


Click here for links to online resources regarding Asthma.


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