Effects of Asthma on Your Quality of Life

doctor consoling patient

How does asthma affect one's quality of life? This respiratory condition impacts all people differently. Some people may need to miss school or work because they have asthma. Others may need to care for a family member with the condition.

In addition, asthma may prevent some people from participating in certain activities, especially sports. Nearly 60 percent of asthmatics limit their physical activity because of asthma symptoms. But the disease not only affects specific individuals but also society as a whole.

Asthma Symptoms and Groups at Risk

If you have asthma, there's no doubt you know its impact on your life. You've likely experienced the main symptoms of the condition, such as wheezingchest tightnessshortness of breath, and chronic cough. Every day asthma reportedly results in 40,000 missed school or work days, 30,000 asthma attacks, 5,000 emergency room visits, 1,000 hospital admissions, and 11 deaths.

Asthma is so common that everyone probably knows someone with the condition. One in 12 people in the United States, or some 25 million people, have asthma. Certain groups are more likely to have the disease. Males of all ages are more likely to have asthma than females. African Americans and other minorities are more likely to have the disease than whites. One in six black children has asthma.

African Americans are three times as likely to be hospitalized or die as a result of asthma than whites. Moreover, the medical condition is responsible for nearly a fourth of all emergency room visits, with children of color making more ER visits for asthma than whites.

The Healthcare System Needs to Do Better

The medical community wants patients to better manage their asthma, but health officials know they have much work to do before that happens. For example, while 80 percent of children are taught to recognize symptoms of asthma, fewer than 70 percent of adults are. Also, only 50 percent of kids have an asthma action plan, and just a third of adults do.

The cost of managing asthma is a barrier for many families, even those with health insurance. One in nine, or 11 percent, of asthmatics with insurance, were unable to afford their asthma medication, compared to two in five, or 40 percent, of uninsured asthmatics. More than 25 percent of African American adults and 20 percent of Hispanic adults report that they cannot afford their asthma medication. These same groups also report that financial barriers make it difficult to see their doctor for routine asthma care.

Inconsistent medical treatment may be why half of all asthmatics have an attack every year. While patient assistance programs are available and may help decrease the impact of asthma, the bottom line is that asthma medications are cost-prohibitive for many Americans.

Cost of medications is not the only asthma expense. Adults may miss one full work week per year because of asthma. If they don't work for an employer that offers paid sick leave, this is a significant burden. Asthma leads to $56 billion in lost wages, medical costs, missed work, and school. Asthma, along with acute bronchitis and pneumonia, makes up 7 percent of all healthcare costs for children and adolescents. 

Overall, asthma expenses burden our health care system. The average cost of healthcare expenses in the U.S. per year for an asthmatic is around $3,300. 

A Word From Verywell

If your efforts to manage asthma have left you feeling overwhelmed, an online asthma community is a great place to connect with other patients and parents with the disease. In these communities, parents and patients ask questions and share what is going on in their asthma-related lives.

Know that you don't have to cope with asthma alone. There's a community there to help, and members may give you excellent advice about meeting the challenges of this costly and pervasive medical condition.

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Article Sources

  • Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Asthma Facts and Figures. http://www.aafa.org/page/asthma-facts.aspx.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic Information. https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/faqs.htm.
  • Indoor Environments Division Office of Air and Radiation, Environmental Protection Agency. Asthma Facts. https://www.epa.gov/asthma.