Asthma is a chronic lung disease that causes the airways that carry air into and out of the lungs to become irritated and swollen. This causes less air to flow into the lungs. Symptoms of asthma include reoccurring episodes of wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing at night or early in the morning. When symptoms increase in intensity, it is known as an asthma attack, flare up, or exacerbation. There are many possible asthma triggers, called allergens, including pollen, dust, physical exercise, food additives, and fragrances, among others. The cold winter months often worsen asthma.
According to America’s Health Rankings, United Health Foundation, an estimated 9.7% percent of adults in Louisiana reported being told by a health professional that they currently have asthma. This is compared to 9.8% of US adults overall (2021). Preventing asthma attacks and visits to the emergency room or hospital is more achievable with a good asthma management plan, available equipment such as inhalers, and medicine refills to control flare ups. This isn’t always possible for some asthma sufferers. Taking medicine and avoiding triggers assists to control asthma. Asthma is one of the risk factors for severe illness with COVID-19, making its proper management crucial.
Although the exact cause of asthma is unknown, researchers hypothesize that an interaction between both genetic and environmental factors cause asthma. There are a number of environmental factors, some which can be controlled, both indoor and outdoor, that are known to trigger asthma symptoms. Common outdoor triggers for asthma are pollen, smoke, air pollution, particulates in air, and pesticides. Indoor triggers for asthma include mold, dust, secondhand smoke, pet dander, cockroaches and other pests, and strong smells or odors, for example, perfumes or chemicals. Through surveillance, the LDH Tracking Program seeks to understand more about asthma in Louisiana and to identify and partner to find ways to reduce environmental triggers.
To explore Asthma data in Louisiana, click here.
Tracking Asthma in Louisiana
The asthma measures on the Health Data Explorer were developed following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Standards for Nationally Consistent Data and Measures (NCDMs) within the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network. The purpose of NCDMs is to ensure compatibility and comparability of data and measures useful for understanding the impact of our environment on our health. The LDH Tracking program collects data on the following measures for both hospitalizations and emergency department visits with a primary diagnosis of asthma:
Average Daily Number
For a more detailed description of these measures, please see the Glossary of Terms.