Skip directly to searchSkip directly to the site navigationSkip directly to the page's main content


Asthma is a condition that makes it difficult to breathe. It usually begins with exposure to a "trigger," which is exposure to something (usually an external allergen) that causes the airways to react. During an asthma attack, the lung airways tighten and fill with fluid. The resulting effects are chest tightness, wheezing, breathlessness, and coughing. Asthma attacks can vary in severity and triggers vary person to person. There is no cure for asthma, but you can manage it through proper medication and avoiding things that trigger your asthma.
The CDC National Asthma Control Program reports that 1 in 11 children and 1 in 12 adults have asthma. In the year 2009, there were 8.9 million doctor visits, 1.9 million emergency department visits, 479,300 hospitalizations, and 3,388 deaths due to asthma. Since there is no cure for asthma, it is a health burden that stays with people for their whole lives. This translates into lifelong costs for medication and treatment. However, there are also many direct and indirect economic costs associated with asthma. The CDC reports that in 2008, there were 10.5 million days of school and 14.2 million days of work that were missed due to asthma. Overall, asthma costs $56 billion per year in the United States. In Utah, it is estimated that asthma-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations cost $27.6 million during 2013. For a complete report on the costs of asthma in Utah, please see the Financial Burden of Asthma in Utah report.
Asthma triggers can come from a variety of sources, such as outdoor allergens, chemicals used in certain occupations, vigorous exercise, or even some medical conditions. Some common triggers include
  • Dust mites,
  • Pollen,
  • Second hand smoke,
  • Mold,
  • Air pollution and smoke,
  • Strenuous exercise,
  • Pets, and
  • Cockroaches.
It is important to remember that asthma triggers vary from person to person.
There are many factors that influence the risk of developing asthma. The CDC reports that risk is increased in the following areas:
  • Gender: For children, boys are more likely to have asthma. However, for adults, women are more likely to have asthma.
  • Age: Young adults ages 18-24 are more likely to have asthma when compared with older adults.
  • Race and ethnicity: For children, black children are twice as likely to have asthma than white children. For adults, multiracial and black adults have a higher risk than white adults.
  • Education: Adults who did not graduate high school have a higher risk than adults who did graduate high school or college.
  • Income: People with incomes below $75,000 per year are more likely to have asthma than those who have greater incomes.
  • Behavior: Smoking increases the risk of asthma as does obesity.
Even though asthma has no cure, you can reduce the risk of severe complications, hospitalizations, and death due to asthma by properly taking prescribed medication and knowing your triggers. When you know your triggers, you can take preventive action to avoid them, thus, preventing asthma attacks.

Once you are diagnosed with asthma, your healthcare provider will advise you on how to properly manage it. Asthma can usually be managed in an outpatient setting, reducing the need for emergency department visits. The majority of problems associated with asthma, including emergency department visits, are preventable if asthma is managed according to established guidelines. Effective management includes control of exposures to factors that trigger exacerbations, adequate pharmacological management, continual monitoring of the disease, and patient education in asthma care.

People who work in school-based health centers are also able to help children manage their asthma. This includes helping reduce exposures to environmental asthma triggers, education, case management, improving indoor air quality, improving students' home environments, and improving outdoor air quality around the school and community. Click here to read more about "Asthma Environmental Intervention Guide for School-Based Health Centers."

Indicator Reports (includes contextual information)

Emergency Department Visits by Age Group and by Sex
Emergency Department Visits by Location
Financial Cost of Asthma Emergency Department Visits

Automatic Data Queries

The UEPHTN receives data regarding asthma hospitalizations and emergency department visits from the Office of Health Care Statistics in the Utah Department of Health. Asthma prevalence data comes from the Utah Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey. The BRFSS survey is conducted by the Survey Center in the Office of Public Health Assessment.

Note: The asthma data on this website only reflects severe cases. The Utah EPHT Network uses hospital data to generate data for the asthma data measures. Hospital data only includes more severe cases since the severe cases go to the hospital. The data does not account for less severe or mild asthma cases.

View complete metadata.

The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Wed, 22 November 2017 18:42:17 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Tue, 13 Dec 2016 15:01:58 MST