May 3, 2011

Asthma In The US Becoming More Prevalent

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday that asthma cases in the US have risen 12.3 percent since 2001, and nearly one in 12 Americans have the chronic respiratory disease.

Those extra 4.3 million cases over the past decade also cost the US economy $53 billion for medical expenses and lost productivity in 2001 to $56 billion in 2009.

Officials say they do not understand why more people are getting asthma, especially when fewer Americans are smoking and the nation is cutting back on air pollution.

"Despite the fact that outdoor air quality has improved, we've reduced two common asthma triggers -- second-hand smoke and smoking in general -- asthma is increasing," Paul Garbe, chief of CDC's Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch, said in a statement.

"While we don't know the cause of the increase, our top priority is getting people to manage their symptoms better."

The CDC report said asthma affects people of all ages but tends to be more prevalent among the poor.

About 17 percent of African-American children have asthma.

All ethnic and demographic groups saw a rise in incidences of asthma over the 2001 through 2009 study period, which used data from the National Health Internet Survey and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

The overall prevalence of asthma in the US went from 20.3 million people in 2001 to 24.6 million people in 2009.

CDC reports that asthma can be trigged by "tobacco smoke, mold, outdoor air pollution, and infections linked to influenza, cold-like symptoms, and other viruses."

Most asthma sufferers can eliminate their symptoms if they take prescription drugs like inhaled corticosteroids, and if they can "modify their environment to reduce or eliminate exposure to allergens and irritants."

Medical expenses had an annual cost of about $3,300 per person for treating asthma.  However, two in five of people without health insurance said they could not afford medication.


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