Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last Reviewed: September 2019. | Last updated: March 2021
Asthma is a common lung disease. In the United States about 25 million, or 1 in 13 people, have asthma, including six million children under age 18. Approximately 1.8 million people had an asthma-related emergency department visit in 2016, and 189,000 people were hospitalized. The number of asthma deaths has been declining steadily since 2001. Adults are nearly five times more likely than children to die from asthma.1-4
Worldwide, there are about 339 million people with asthma and rates are increasing. Low- and middle-income countries suffer the most severe cases. Asthma is most prevalent in the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Brazil, and Central America.5
- For children younger than 18, boys are more likely to have asthma than girls. Among adults over age 18, asthma is more common in women than men.1
- Males and females ages 5 to 24 are equally likely to have asthma. Boys ages 0-4 are more likely to have asthma compared to girls of the same age. Among adults 25 and older, women are more likely to have asthma than men.2
- In the United States, people living in the Northeast, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Hawaii and Puerto Rico are most likely to have asthma, compared with people in the South and West.2
- Asthma is more common in people with lower incomes.2
How do asthma and asthma outcomes differ by race/ethnicity?
African Americans are more likely to have asthma than either Caucasians or Hispanics, but asthma has increased across all three ethnic groups. Females, black people, and Puerto Ricans are more likely to have asthma, as well. Among Hispanic individuals, Puerto Ricans are more likely to have asthma than Mexicans.2
Non-Hispanic blacks, both adults and male children, are more likely to die from asthma than other groups.
Is asthma becoming more or less common?
Overall, 8 percent of the U.S. population, or 25 million people, had asthma in 2017, compared to 20 million, or 7.3 percent in 2001.2
How common are asthma attacks?
About half of people with asthma have had an asthma attack.1 Asthma attacks are more common in children (51.6%) than adults (43.6%).1 The good news is that asthma attacks have declined roughly 10 percent among both children and adults since 2001.2
What are the costs of asthma to society?
More than $80 billion is spent in the United States each year on medical expenses related to asthma. The annual per person medical costs for asthma were $3,266.7
The number of doctor’s office visits due to asthma dropped between 2001 and 2016, from 409.7 visits per 10,000 population to 307.8 per 10,000 population. Rates of asthma-related emergency room visits did not change between 2001 and 2016. Rates of hospitalizations for asthma also declined by half during the same period.2
The number of children who missed one or more days of school decreased from 61.5 percent in 2003 to 49 percent in 2013. Missed school days did not change for age, gender, race, ethnicity or poverty level.6