Background: The "asthma epidemic" is on the rise, with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) epidemiological studies reporting a 3.0% asthma prevalence in the United States in 1970, 5.5% in 1996, and 7.8% in 2006 to 2008. This results in an immense economic burden, with asthma costing an estimated $56 billion in the United States in 2007, which is a 6% increase from the $53 billion that was spent in 2002.
Methods: A review of the current literature and CDC reports were used to thoroughly examine and summarize the epidemiology and economic burden of asthma domestically and globally.
Results: Asthma shows a male predominance before puberty, and a female predominance in adulthood. Studies show Puerto Ricans to be the most commonly affected ethnicity, and a higher prevalence of asthma is found in lower income populations. Asthma is related to some of the more common otolaryngologic diseases such as allergy and obstructive sleep apnea. The condition results in significant morbidity, such as an increase in emergency department visits and a decrease in productivity due to missed school and works days.
Conclusion: Epidemiological statistics report an undisputable increase of asthma both domestically and worldwide, which means the economic burden of this disease is also on the rise. Better access to healthcare, improved asthma education, and bridging the gap between ethnic and racial disparities in the treatment and management of asthma may help to control this epidemic, promote better outcomes, and prevent continued rising costs related to the management of this widespread disease.
Keywords: allergy; asthma; economic burden; epidemiology; pediatrics.
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