<< Topic

Prevalence of Respiratory Disorders in Adults

Somnath Pal, BS (Pharm), MBA, PhD
Professor of Pharmacy Administration
College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, St. John’s University
Jamaica, New York


US Pharm. 2012;37(7):7.

According to the 2010 National Health Interview Survey, Americans aged at least 18 years had these disorders: emphysema (2%), asthma (12.7%), hay fever (7.8%), sinusitis (13%), or chronic bronchitis (CB) (4.3%). More women than men had asthma (14.5% vs. 10.8%), hay fever (8.5% vs. 6.6%), sinusitis (15.5% vs. 9.8%), or CB (5.3% vs. 3%), but more men had emphysema (2.1% vs. 1.6%). Asian adults had less sinusitis, CB, or asthma (7.8%, 1.3%, and 9%, respectively) than African American (14.3%, 4%, and 15.3%) and white adults (12.8%, 4.3%, and 12.4%). The percentage of adults with sinusitis (15.6%) was higher in the southern United States than in any other region. In 2001, asthma affected 7.3% of Americans; by 2010, the percentage was 8.2%, equating to 25.7 million cases. Females (9.2%) had a higher prevalence than males (7%).

Race: Individuals of multiple race had the highest asthma prevalence (14.1%), and Asian individuals had the lowest rate (5.2%). Blacks (11.2%) and American Indian/Alaska Natives (9.4%) had a higher rate of asthma than whites (7.7%). Hispanic adults had lower rates of asthma, hay fever, emphysema, and CB (6.9%, 4.8%, 1%, 3%, respectively) than non-Hispanic white (8%, 8.4%, 2%, 4.6%) and non-Hispanic black adults (10.6% 6.3%, 1.2%, 4%). Hispanic adults were less likely than non-Hispanic black adults to have sinusitis (9.1% vs. 14.3%). Compared with other female and male single-race groups, white non-Hispanic women (16.7%) and black non-Hispanic women (16.2%) were most likely to suffer from sinusitis. More non-Hispanic white women (9.2%) had hay fever, compared with other female and male single-race groups.

Health Care Utilization: Although from 2001 to 2009 fewer patients with asthma went to primary care settings for health care services, the number of emergency department (ED) visits and the number of asthma patients who were hospitalized did not change appreciably. From 2007 to 2009, more black patients than white patients visited the ED for asthma.

Insurance: Adults in poor versus nonpoor families had higher rates of emphysema (2.8% vs. 1.4%), asthma (15.4% vs. 12.3%), and CB (6.7% vs. 3.6%). In adults aged under 65 years, those insured by Medicaid had higher rates of emphysema, asthma, and CB (2.9%, 13.9%, 8.1%, respectively) than those who had private insurance (0.6%, 7.7%, 3.1%) or were uninsured (1%, 6.6%, 3.3%). Similarly, among adults aged 65 years and older, those insured by Medicaid and Medicare had higher rates of emphysema, asthma, and CB (9%, 16.7%, 11.7%, respectively) than those who had only Medicare (5%, 7.2%, 5.4%) or private insurance (5.6%, 7.6%, 5.4%).

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