Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease characterized by episodes or attacks of inflammation and narrowing of small airways. Asthma attacks can vary from mild to life threatening. Symptoms can include shortness of breath, cough, wheezing, and chest pain or tightness. Many things can trigger asthma attacks such as allergens (e.g., pollen), infections, exercise, changes in the weather, and exposure to airway irritants (e.g., tobacco smoke).
The burden from asthma in the United States has increased over the past 2 decades. Asthma attacks interfere with daily activities, including attending school and going to work. In 2002, 14.7 million school days and 11.8 million work days were missed due to asthma among those who reported at least one asthma attack in the previous year. In 2003, the reported absences decreased to 12.8 million school days and 10.1 million work days, respectively missed due to asthma.1
This information was collected through the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). NHIS, the principal source of information on the health of the civilian population of the United States*, is one of the major data collection programs of the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The main objective of the NHIS is to monitor the health of the United States population through the collection and analysis of data on a broad range of health topics.
For more information, see:
1CDC. Asthma Prevalence, Health Care Use and Mortality: United States, 2003-05. National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer). Available from URL: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/pubd/hestats/ashtma03-05/asthma03-05.htm
*The National Health Information Survey (NHIS) does not include Armed Forces personnel on active duty, residents of long-term care facilities or U.S. nationals living in foreign countries.