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Asthma in Virginia

Asthma OverviewAs the number of Virginians with asthma continues to increase we must understand the factors influencing this increase as well as consider what public health can do to educate our communities and care for those with asthma. Approximately 412,370 adults in Virginia report having asthma. From 1980 to 1996, the prevalence of asthma in children in the United States increased by an average of 4.3 percent per year.

In order to help those dealing with asthma, on June 14 the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Department of Education, together with the Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, announced the release of a comprehensive data report on asthma in Virginia.

Please join us as we work to increase awareness of this chronic illness and assist our communities in developing habits that will help Virginians to breathe easier.

Overview of Asthma in Virginia
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by repeated and distressing episodes of wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and coughing. It can be difficult to diagnose and differentiate from other respiratory illnesses. The cause of asthma is unknown, as is a cure.

Asthma Facts

How does asthma affect sufferers?

  • Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. People with asthma may experience wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness and nighttime or early morning coughing.
  • Asthma can affect a person’s ability to participate in physical activities. However, with proper maintenance, people can lead normal lives and are encouraged to continue their normal routine.
  • An asthma sufferer may have to use a device called an inhaler to control coughing or maintain comfortable breathing.

How many Virginians have been diagnosed with asthma?

  • In 2004, 412,370 adults and 152,000 children in Virginia reported having asthma.
  • Twenty-two of VDH’s 35 health districts had adult asthma rates higher than the 2004 state rate of 7.3 percent for adults.
  • The rate of children suffering from asthma increased nationwide by an average of 4.3 percent per year from 1980 to 1996. Today asthma accounts for 14 million days of school missed each year.

What are some of the risk factors for asthma?

  • Environmental exposure to mold, second hand smoke, dust mites and cockroach droppings can trigger asthma. Genetic factors can also lead to asthma.
  • Behavioral risk factors such as smoking, stress and obesity contribute to developing asthma.
  • Running or some other vigorous activities can trigger asthma.

Last Updated: 07-30-2011

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