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FOR RELEASE: May 22 , 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

More than 300,000 Oklahomans Suffer From Asthma
Asthma Matters

Spring is the peak season for asthma and allergy sufferers. Although asthma affects every state, the number of diagnosed asthma cases in Oklahoma has risen significantly over the past few years. Of the 307,500 Oklahomans with asthma, 229,000 are adults and 78,500 are children suffering with the disease, according to public health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH).

“Asthma is a serious disease and nearly 60 Oklahomans die each year from it,” said Adeline Yerkes, chief, OSDH Chronic Disease Service.

Asthma is a disease of the lungs in which the airways become blocked or narrowed due to inflammation, making breathing difficult. It is characterized by cough, shortness of breath, tightening of the chest, and wheezing. These symptoms can be triggered by a variety of sources including respiratory infections, allergens, air pollutants, allergenic food and chemicals, and psychological factors.

People most likely to have asthma in Oklahoma include:

    females
    adults 25 to 34 years old and those over 55 years old
    current or former smokers
    persons who are obese

In Oklahoma, asthma affects nearly one in 13 school-aged children and is one of the leading causes of school absenteeism for children. About 30 percent of adults were unable to work at least one day during the past 12 months because of asthma. Asthma events are also one of the leading causes for emergency room visits and hospitalizations in Oklahoma.

Although asthma is not curable, it is controllable. Experts now understand how to deliver asthma care that can substantially reduce the number of attacks and other adverse impacts. Please contact your doctor if you experience asthma signs or symptoms.

For more information about asthma awareness, contact the OSDH Chronic Disease Service at 405-271-4072 or visit www.epa.gov/asthma.

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