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Asthma in Ohio

Asthma is a serious health and economic concern to Ohio residents.

  • One in ten Ohio adults has asthma.
  • One in seven Ohio children has asthma.
  • One in five Ohio children below the poverty level has asthma.
  • More than 17,000 Ohio inpatient hospital visits were for asthma in 2009.

Asthma is deadly. Twelve Ohioans die every month from asthma. In 2012, 146 people died from asthma in Ohio.

 What is asthma?

Asthma is a disease that impacts the lungs. An asthma attack is an inflammation, or swelling, of the lining in the airways of the lungs. Inflammation is a way our body protects itself, but it can be harmful when inflammation happens at the wrong time or lasts too long.

The airways in the lungs of people with asthma are more sensitive to things they breathe such as tobacco smoke, pollen and dust. These are irritants and allergens. Normally, people breathe in pollen, pollution and other irritants without difficulty, but for people with asthma this is not the case. People with asthma may also be sensitive to bacteria, viruses, and cold air. All of these things are known as triggers

Triggers cause a person’s immune system to overact and cause inflammation of the airways in the lungs, making it hard to breathe. This is an asthma attack. People with asthma have different triggers. Exercise may be a trigger and cause an asthma attack for some people with asthma.

During an asthma attack three changes occur:

  • The lining of the airways swell. This is inflammation.
  • The muscles around the airways tighten up. This is bronchoconstriction.
  • The mucus glands in the airways make more mucus that is thicker than normal.

Each of the three changes makes the airways smaller. The three changes together make it hard to breathe.

An asthma attack ranges from mild to life-threatening. Common asthma symptoms include cough (especially at night), wheezing, feeling short of breath and chest tightness.  An asthma attack may come on quickly or over time.

Asthma is a chronic disease. Once you have asthma, you have asthma for the rest of your life. Your lungs are still sensitive even when you feel good and have no symptoms. The good news is you can control your asthma with medicine and lifestyle changes.

Medicine: Your health care professional may prescribe two different types of medicine. One is a control medicine to take every day. The other is a rescue medicine to take during an asthma attack. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you cannot afford your medicine.

Lifestyle Changes: Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight. Watch the Air Quality Index (AQI) in your area and plan outside activities when the AQI is lower. Stay inside, preferably in air-conditioning, or limit strenuous outdoor activity to help control asthma. Keep your rescue inhaler with you and use a spacer to get the most of your medicine. Keep regular appointments with your healthcare provider, even when your asthma is well-controlled.

Asthma is controllable. Controlling asthma requires working closely with your health care provider to develop a plan of action called an Asthma Action Plan. It is possible to live a normal life with asthma by learning how to manage triggers and taking medicine as directed. 

Learn more about asthma, allergies that cause asthma (triggers), and asthma medicine from the National Institute of Health

Page reviewed: 5/02/2017