Asthma is an airway disease caused by hypersensitivity reactions in the airways that leads to them becoming swollen and inflamed. During an asthma attack, the muscles surrounding the airways tighten, causing the airways to narrow and making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. The exact cause of asthma is not entirely known but there is thought to be a genetic component. Asthma triggers differ from person to person but may include allergens such as dust and pollen, chemicals and other irritants such as smoke or pollution, physical activity, and even some foods.
Asthma is a serious personal and public health issue that has far-reaching medical, economic and psychosocial implications. The prevalence of asthma has been increasing since 1980. It is estimated that 22.6 million Americans have asthma – approximately one in every 14 people. This includes 16.5 million adults and 6.1 million children.
Asthma affects people of every race, and by gender and age. However, significant disparities in asthma morbidity and mortality exist, in particular for low-income and minority populations. Populations with a higher prevalence of asthma include: children, women (among adults) and boys (among children), African Americans, and people living below the federal poverty level. While there is not a cure for asthma yet, there are
guidelines for diagnosis and treatment that are aimed at ensuring people with asthma live full and active lives. Indeed, the death rate due to asthma has been decreasing in this country since the mid-1990s.
Asthma Prevalence in Arizona
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Arizona populations with higher asthma prevalence include females and Non-Hispanic whites. According to the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), the highest prevalence of asthma in La Paz and Graham Counties. It should be noted that while 13.5% of adults in Arizona report having been diagnosed with asthma, the actual prevalence is likely far higher given that many individuals with asthma have never been formally diagnosed.
Childhood Asthma in Arizona
According to ADHS, the prevalence of childhood asthma in Arizona is estimated to be 10.9%. This equates to 174,000 individuals between the ages of 0 – 18 years currently with asthma. Among the 33 states with similarly available data, Arizona ranks sixth in terms of current childhood prevalence.