What is asthma?
Asthma is a disease that affects your lungs. It is one of
the most common long-term diseases of children, but adults can have asthma, too.
Asthma causes wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing at night
or early in the morning. If you have asthma, you have it all the time, but you
will have asthma attacks only when something bothers your lungs.
Asthma can be controlled by taking medicine and avoiding
the triggers that can cause an attack. You must remove the triggers in your
environment that can make your asthma worse or cause an attack.
What effect does the environment have on asthma?
Although the specific cause of asthma is unknown, we do
know that asthma attacks are sometimes triggered by:
- Allergens (like pollen, mold, animal dander, and dust mites)
- Occupational hazards
- Tobacco smoke
- Air pollution
- Airway infections
Who is at risk?
Below are identifiers that make a person more likely to
- Women are more likely to have asthma than men.
- In children, boys are more likely to have asthma than girls.
- Adults ages 18 to 24 are more likely to have asthma than older
Behavioral risk factors:
- Smokers are more likely to have asthma than non-smokers.
- Obese adults are most likely to have asthma.
How is asthma tracked?
The Kansas Environmental Public Health Tracking Program
uses hospitalization data to track asthma cases.
Hospitalization for asthma is a result of varying factors including limited access to health care, uncontrolled asthma conditions, and potentially inadequate medical treatment services. Asthma hospitalizations may be an indicator both of the severity of the disease and barriers to regular asthma care (e.g., lack of health insurance). Causes of asthma are unknown, however, asthma attacks can be triggered by certain environmental contaminants such as dust mites, mold, air pollution and pets/pet dander.Tracking asthma hospitalizations can aid in identifying populations vulnerable to asthma triggers and/or inadequate access to routine medical care. The majority of problems associated with asthma, including hospitalization, are preventable through control of exposure to factors that trigger exacerbation, appropriate medication use, continual monitoring of the disease, and patient education in asthma care.