Asthma is a very common lung disease. It has been described in all age groups, from childhood into the “golden years.” Asthma affects approximately 17 million Americans, including 6.3 million children younger than 18 years of age. Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood. It is the primary cause of school absences due to a chronic condition. More than a million school days are missed annually because of asthma. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in the year 2001, asthma accounted for 11.3 million visits to office-based physicians, 1.3 million visits to hospital clinics, and 1.7 million visits to hospital emergency departments (Table Asthma in the United States).
Table Asthma in the United States
|• Approximately 17 million Americans have asthma, including 6.3 million children younger than 18 years of age.|
|• In 2001 alone, asthma accounted for 11.3 million visits to office-based physicians, 1.3 million visits to hospital clinics, and 1.7 million visits to hospital emergency departments.|
|• There were 4,269 reported deaths from asthma in 2001 in the U.S.|
|• Asthma-related health costs are estimated at $14 billion dollars annually.|
|• Asthma is responsible for approximately 14 million missed school days and 14.5 million missed work days annually.|
There were also 4,269 reported deaths from asthma for the same period. The last statistic is especially shocking; it indicates that on average, almost a dozen individuals die from asthma each day in the United States. These deaths occur at a time when science has made enormous strides in the understanding of asthma. Never before has health care been so sophisticated. Never before has the medical profession had access to highly effective, safe medications and treatments for asthma. And yet, undiagnosed and inadequately treated asthma continues to represent a significant public health burden.