Skip to content

Asthma Facts

While children and young adults are the main population described here, but older adults also suffer from asthma.

Asthma in the United States

  • U.S. asthma cases more than tripled from an estimated 6.7 million in 1980 to 25.7 million in 2010.
  • Asthma cost he US about $56 billion in medical costs, lost school and work days, and early deaths in 2007. This figure has increased from $53 billion in 2002.
  • An estimated 7 million (9.4%) U.S. children were asthmatic in 2010, more than twice the entire population of South Carolina.
  • 3,388 people died of asthma in 2009 (1.1 per 100,000 population age-adjusted rate).
graph: leading causes of hospitalization

Asthma in South Carolina

  • Currently about 293,200 adults (2010 estimate) and 90,005 children (2007 estimate) suffer from asthma in South Carolina.
  • Currently between10% and 14.3% of middle school students suffer from asthma. Between 18.9% and 25.4% of middle school students have ever been told that they have asthma (2011).
  • Currently between 9.2% and 13.7% of high school students suffer from asthma, compared to 11.9% nationwide. Between 20.8% and 26.4% of high school students have ever been told that they have asthma, compared to 23% nationwide (2011).
  • 67 South Carolinians died from asthma in 2010 (1.4 per 100,000 population age-adjusted rate).
  • In 2011, 1.2% (5,975) of ALL hospitalizations were for asthma.
  • Thirty percent of all those hospitalizations were among children.
  • 23.8% of public high school students had ever been diagnosed with asthma in 2011 (by way of recalling prescription).
  • Of those high school students who were asthmatic, 24.4% are current smokers, which is more than the statewide percentage for high school students of 22.4% (not significantly different).
  • 74.4% of high school students with asthma were exposed to second hand smoke in a room or car within the past week.
  • According to the Surgeon General, children with asthma exposed to environmental tobacco smoke experience more frequent and severe asthma attacks.

Many people with asthma receive care from their family doctor, but the best asthma data in South Carolina comes from hospitalization and Emergency Room [ER] records. People with asthma severe enough to need hospitalization or an ER visit may be the ones most in need of education and public health services.

Young people suffer the most from asthma in South Carolina.

  • Asthma prevalence rate is highest among those under 18 years old, and is the most common chronic disease and leading cause of disability among children.
graphs: hospital visits by age & gender

Asthma & Bronchitis

  • Asthma and related conditions were the leading cause of children's hospitalizations in 2011, with over 3,200 admissions. The second leading cause, pneumonia, is diagnosed more frequently in children with asthma.
  • Over 137,000 ER visits were due to asthma during 2009-2011.
  • Children visited the ER more than 36,000 times (27% of the total) for asthma during 2009-2011.

What are symptoms of asthma?

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Coughing

Some asthmatic people don't wheeze. They may only cough, especially after exercise or during the night.

What are some common triggers for an asthma attack?

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Dander (flakes) from the skin, hair or feathers of pets
  • House dust mites
  • Cockroaches
  • Pollen from grass and trees
  • Molds (indoor and outdoor)
  • Upper airway infections, like colds
  • Scented hair spray, cosmetics
  • Scented cleaning products
  • Strong odors from fresh paint or cooking
  • Automobile fumes
  • Air pollution, including ozone
  • Exercise
  • Strong feelings (crying, joy)
graph: 2011 Hospital and ED Discharge Rates due to Asthma among younger than 18 years

What can you expect from proper asthma treatment?

  • Enjoy sports and exercise.
  • Sleep through the night without asthma symptoms.
  • Prevent asthma attacks.
  • Avoid side effects from asthma medicines.
  • Changes in weather and temperature

Can asthma attacks be treated and prevented? YES!

To prevent asthma attacks, work closely with your doctor to:

  • Reduce contact with your triggers, especially at home.
  • Stop smoking (cigarettes, cigars, or pipes) and keep your children away from cigarette smoke.
  • Monitor your own breathing and airways with a simple device called a peak flow meter.
  • Make a medicine plan to treat your symptoms when you have an attack.
  • Learn when to seek medical help.
  • Treat symptoms early.

The Cost of Asthma

  • The total direct and indirect cost of asthma in the United States for 2010 is estimated at $20.7 billion. This figure includes $15.6 billion in direct health care costs and another $5.1 billion for indirect costs.
  • The public and private sectors share the cost of asthma equally.
  • The costs of asthma to Medicaid can be greatly reduced by educating patients to recognize signs early, thus reducing emergency room and hospital visits.

graph: Childhood and Adolescents Asthma Rate (primary) by month

Related Information

Staff Phone, Email Info | DHEC Locations | Organizational Charts | S.C. Board of Health and Environmental Control