This post is the first in a series taken from the article by Keith Wassung entitled “Asthma and Chiropractic: A Research Review”. This series focuses on Asthma, the epidemic, the anatomy of an asthma attack, conventional treatment, and chiropractic care. This week’s post looks at the asthma epidemic.

The Asthma Epidemic

lungs in chains

Asthma is one of the fastest growing chronic conditions in the United States with over 15 million Americans affected, including four million children. The death rate from asthma has increased more than 66% since 1980, with a record 6,600 annual deaths attributed to asthma.1

Americans spend $6.2 billion annually on asthma treatment and over $1 billion on medications. Adults with asthma lose over $850 million in lost wages from work and parents with asthmatic children lose over $1 billion by staying home from work to care for their children. Asthma is the #1 cause of hospitalization for children in the United States.2

An estimated 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, with 250,000 annual deaths attributed to the disease. Studies show that almost all of these deaths are avoidable.

A study by Dutch and American researchers found that 75% of children with moderate to severe asthma still have the condition by the time they reach their mid-twenties.3

jogger with asthma

After a decade of decline, both the number of cases and deaths due to asthma are surging. Cases nearly doubled from 1994 to 2009 with the biggest increase among people ages 18-44, according to the American Lung Association.
In 2009, over 6,000 people succumbed to fatal attacks, twice the number who died in 1979. The death rate has risen fastest for African-American.4


  1. Underwood, A. Why Ebonie can’t breathe. Newsweek, 59-64.
  2. Firshein, R. Reversing Asthma. Warner Books.
  3. Firshein, R. Reversing Asthma. Warner Books.
  4. Podolsky, D. (2010, March). Gasping for life. U.S. News & World Report.