Living with Asthma

Asthma in the United States

Asthma is a disease that's growing in prevalence in the United States. Even though the medical research community has made remarkable progress in terms of fighting and managing the condition in people who have it, the statistics of its growth remain quite troubling. Below are a few items to consider when pondering the effects of asthma in the United States.



The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) publishes an annual list of rankings for cities that present the biggest challenges for those living with asthma. Below is the list of top 10 cities for 2009:

  1. St. Louis, MO
  2. Milwaukee, WI
  3. Birmingham, AL
  4. Chattanooga, TN
  5. Charlotte, NC
  6. Memphis, TN
  7. Knoxville, TN
  8. McAllen, TX
  9. Atlanta, GA
  10. Little Rock, AR

There are many different variables that go into the compiling of this rankings list, and the AAFA lays them out below:

Rankings are based on analysis of 12 factors in three groups:

  • Prevalence Factors – morbidity and mortality statistics
  • Risk Factors – air quality, pollen, "100% smoke-free" laws, poverty and more
  • Medical Factors – medication usage and access to specialists


Perhaps the most startling statistic regarding asthma in the United States is that despite all of the research and advancements made in regards to managing the disease and minimizing its effects, the number of asthma patients in the United States has doubled since 1980. As of now, more than 20 million people in the United States have asthma, and more than 6 million of them are children. Most attribute this growth to environmental factors, but as of now there is no definitive answer to this open question.

Additionally, asthma is responsible for approximately 5,500 deaths in the United States per year, and for unknown reasons, asthma seems to hit the African-American community harder than others. Rates of death, hospitalization and emergency department visits are 2-3 times higher among African-Americans than among white Americans. Researchers are working on clarifying this issue.

As you see, asthma is growing in prevalence in the United States, which is not good news. What is good news is that this disease does not present nearly the dangers now that it did even a few years ago given the advancements in education, medication and preventative care. However, the fight against asthma will not be easy, and it never has been. We all need to arm ourselves with knowledge and move forward in hopes of someday defeating this foe once and for all.