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Last Edited: 10/8/2009


Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung disease characterized by recurrent episodes of breathlessness, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness, called exacerbations. Exacerbations can be triggered by exposures and conditions such as respiratory infections, house dust mites, animal dander, mold, pollen, exercise, tobacco smoke, and indoor and outdoor air pollutants. Although there is no cure for asthma, exacerbations can be reduced with appropriate management, which includes proper use of medications and provision of a healthy physical environment. Asthma prevalence increased dramatically during the last three decades. In 2001, an estimated 3.9 million Californian adults and children reported that they had been diagnosed with asthma at some time in their life. Every year about 40,000 Californians are hospitalized because of asthma. Hospitalization and mortality rates are higher among African-Americans compared to other racial groups. Further, hospitalization rates among children are much higher than other age groups.

EHIB staff conduct a number of projects related to asthma, including a five-year grant funded from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, entitled, "California Breathing: Addressing Asthma from a Public Health Perspective". To interact with asthma hospitalization and emergency department data in a web query system, please visit the California Environmental Health Tracking Program's asthma pages.

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