What is Asthma?

Asthma is a serious, sometimes life-threatening chronic respiratory disease that affects the quality of life for almost 24 million Americans, including an estimated 6 million children. Although there is no cure for asthma yet, asthma can be controlled through medical treatment and management of environmental triggers. EPA is committed to educating all Americans about asthma so that:

  • Everyone knows what asthma is,
  • How the environment can affect asthma patients and
  • How to manage environmental asthma triggers.

Who is at Risk for Asthma?

Anyone can get asthma - people of all ethnic groups, male and female, young and old, city dwellers and rural dwellers. In the United States, more than 20 million people have asthma. Asthma is common among children and teens; about three students in an average classroom of 30 have asthma.

While no one knows for sure why some people develop asthma and others don't, we do know that it is a combination of your family history and your environment.

There is no cure for asthma. Once you have asthma, you will have the disease for the rest of your life. But with proper care, you can lead a healthy, productive, fully active life.

To learn more about managing asthma visit Asthma Triggers: Gain Control or Exit.

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Asthma Triggers

Learn more about factors found in the indoor and outdoor environment that can cause, trigger or exacerbate asthma symptoms and what you can do to reduce their impact. You might be surprised by the list of common environmental asthma triggers and how simple it can be to eliminate them from your environment.

Preventing Asthma Attacks

Step 1 - Talk to a doctor

If you think that you or your child may have asthma, talk to a doctor. Your doctor will work with you to diagnose asthma and keep you or your child from having asthma attacks.

  • Learn what triggers asthma attacks.
  • Identify asthma triggers in your home.
  • Talk about ways to get rid of triggers in your home.
  • Find out what medicine(s) to take.

Step 2 - Make a Plan

Ask your doctor to help you create an Asthma Action Plan to prevent asthma attacks.

An Asthma Action Plan will help you control asthma on a regular basis. Use this plan together with your doctor to write down how to manage asthma; routinely on a daily basis and during an attack. Look on the back for a list of possible asthma triggers and ways to avoid them.

Step 3 - Asthma-Proof Your Home

Triggers are a part of everyday life. Asthma attacks can be triggered by things like mold growing on your shower curtain or tiny dust mites that live in blankets, pillows, or your child's stuffed animals. Learn more about things that might trigger an asthma attack and what you can do to get rid of them and to stay healthy.

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EPA's Communities in Action Asthma Initiative

EPA's Communities in Action Asthma Initiative is a coordinated effort to reduce the burden of asthma and includes programs to address indoor and outdoor environments that cause, trigger or exacerbate asthma symptoms. These programs help improve the quality of life for millions of Americans living with asthma. Media, download the Press Kit on EPA's Asthma Program.

  • The Asthma Community Network Exit supports community-based asthma initiatives to improve asthma health outcomes and help transfer knowledge across community programs. Join the Asthma Community Network today!

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Additional Resources

  • EPA's is a website that monitors outdoor air quality and informs the public of health risks from outdoor air pollution.
  • The Partner website provides information to help children with asthma and their families manage environmental asthma triggers in and around their homes:
  • EPA's IAQ Tools for Schools guidance offers tools and resources to empower school communities to protect children from environmental asthma triggers.
  • EPA's Clean Air Research website offers information on how we conduct and coordinate research to increase scientific knowledge about asthma and ways to manage environmental factors that cause asthma and trigger asthma attacks.
  • Home Visits: The EPA publication Implementing An Asthma Home Visit Program: 10 Steps to Help Health Plans Get Started provides health care providers and healthcare plan administrators with information, education and resources to incorporate environmental management into clinical practices and standards of care for asthma patients.

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