Effects of Asthma on Quality of Life

Because it's a chronic disease, asthma can affect your quality of life in several ways. 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. Many asthmatics limit their physical activity because of their symptoms.

A doctor consoling his patient
KatarzynaBialasiewicz / iStockphoto

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. 

Asthma is so common that everyone probably knows someone with the condition. One in 13 people in the United States, more than 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 2 million emergency room visits each year, 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, although experts stress the importance of an asthma action plan, the many people with asthma don't have one. The action plan includes information about medicines. recognizing when your symptoms get worse, and what to do in an emergency.

The cost of managing asthma is a barrier for many families, even those with health insurance.

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.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Common asthma triggers.

  2. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Asthma facts.

  3. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Asthma action plan.

Additional Reading
  • 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.

By Pat Bass, MD
Dr. Bass is a board-certified internist, pediatrician, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Physicians.