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Asthma is a condition that makes it difficult to breathe. It usually begins with exposure to a "trigger," which is exposure to something (typically, 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 from person to person. There is no cure for asthma, but it can be managed with proper medication and by avoiding things that trigger your asthma.
The CDC National Asthma Control Program reports that 1 in 12 children and adults have asthma. Based on the most recent data available, there were 2.0 million emergency department visits and 3,615 deaths due to asthma across the U.S. in 2014.

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, as there are many direct and indirect economic costs associated with asthma. The CDC reports asthma costs Americans about $56 billion per year. In Utah, it is estimated that asthma-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations cost $27.6 million in 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
  • 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:
  • Sex: Males are more likely to have asthma in children. However, for adults, females 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: Black children are twice as likely to have asthma than white children. Multiracial and black adults have a higher risk than white adults. Asthma attacks have decreased in children of all races since 2001.
  • 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.
Although there is no cure, it is possible to reduce the risk of severe complications, hospitalizations, and death caused by asthma by properly taking prescribed medication and knowing possible triggers. When you know what triggers your asthma, you can take preventive action to avoid them, and prevent asthma attacks.

Once you are diagnosed with asthma, your healthcare provider will advise you on proper management. Asthma can usually be managed in an outpatient setting, reducing the need for emergency department visits. Effective management includes control of exposures to factors that trigger exacerbations, using medicine as prescribed, monitoring the disease, and patient education in asthma care.

People who work in school-based health centers may be 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. The Public Health Insitiute developed a guide for school-based health centers. Follow this link for more information: Asthma Environmental Intervention Guide for School-Based Health Centers
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 asthma is traditionally managed in the outpatient setting. The data does not account for less severe or mild asthma cases.

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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 Sun, 22 May 2022 16:12:18 from Utah Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Tue, 16 Jun 2020 14:58:54 MDT