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Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airway characterized by episodes of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing. This disorder may be aggravated by allergens, tobacco smoke and other irritants, exercise, and infections of the respiratory tract. However, by taking certain precautions, persons with asthma may be able to effectively manage this disorder and participate in daily activities.

In 2004, women had higher rates of asthma than men (82.7 versus 49.8 per 1,000 population, respectively); this was true in every racial and ethnic group. Among women, non-Hispanic Blacks had the highest asthma rate (92.7 per 1,000), followed by women of other races (88.2 per 1,000); Asian women had the lowest asthma rate (41.9 per 1,000).

Being hospitalized with asthma can be an indication that the asthma is not effectively controlled. In 2004, asthmatic women with lower family incomes were more likely than women with higher family incomes to be hospitalized with asthma. Among women with family incomes below 100 percent of the Federal poverty level (FPL), 36.4 percent of those with asthma were hospitalized, compared to 18.8 percent of asthmatic women with family incomes of 300 percent of FPL and above.

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Women's Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.