The Impact of Asthma

Asthma is a serious and widespread disease, affecting 300 million individuals worldwide. In the U.S. about 25 million people have asthma—one out of every 12 people. The disease affects all age groups: infants, school children, young adults, baby boomers, and seniors, but the prevalence in children is particularly high and it is rapidly growing. Almost one in 9 children in the U.S. has asthma. Other little known facts include:

  • Each year, nearly 3,500 people in the U.S. die from asthma.

  • Asthma is the single most prevalent cause of childhood disability in the U.S.

  • The cost to society of asthma in the U.S. is over $50 billion per year in healthcare expenses, missed school and work days, and early death.

  • Childhood asthma has sky-rocketed in inner cities. Asthma disproportionately strikes the poor, who are at least 50 percent more likely to have the disease than those not living in poverty. While the reasons are not completely clear, research by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demonstrates that a combination of poverty-related issues trigger attacks.

  • Because of asthma, children miss approximately 13 million school days per year. Poor children, already at risk for failure, are therefore more likely to fall even farther behind in their schoolwork.

  • Asthma causes approximately 10 million missed workdays a year.

  • Although asthma is more common in children than in adults, most deaths from asthma are in adults.

  • Approximately 11 percent of all asthma sufferers are over age 65. Respiratory tract infections, especially common among the elderly, often trigger attacks. Asthma can contribute significantly to early physical deterioration and even death among the elderly.

  • Asthma is only partially controlled by the best treatments available and in some patients asthma is resistant to all current therapies.

Despite the overwhelming prevalence of the disease and the suffering it causes, relatively little progress has been made to date in improving treatment, understanding the causes, preventing, and finding a cure.