Asthma: a chronic illness that’s on the rise

World Asthma Day

Approximately 235 million people are living with Asthma worldwide.

In Western Europe, the incidence of asthma has doubled in 10 years; in the United Stated, the prevalence of asthma has also increased by more than 60% since the 1980s and is now at its highest-ever level.

Asthma is caused by inflammation in the bronchial tubes, the airways that carry the air in and out of the lungs. It results in wheezing or breathlessness, coughing and tightness in the chest.

While it cannot be cured, asthma can be managed and treated. That’s why it’s so important to raise awareness of the condition this World Asthma Day.


Asthma: the most common chronic disease in children


“Experts are struggling to understand why rates world-wide are, on average, rising by 50% every decade »
OMS Fact sheet n°206

This rise in the prevalence of asthma – and the severity of its symptoms – is particularly apparent in children, the group the condition also most commonly affects.

While the prevalence of asthma has continuously increased across ages, genders and racial groups, it is most often triggered during childhood when exposure to allergens in the home, combined with a family history of asthma or allergy, can result in an asthma diagnosis.


Allergens and air pollution: how they can trigger asthma


While genetic predisposition can increase the chances of asthma, it can also result from environmental factors such as airborne allergens (a substance which causes an allergic reaction) or some viral infections in early childhood when the immune system is developing. Tobacco smoke, chemical irritants, and other fine particles can also contribute to asthma symptoms.

Researchers at the Orsay University Institute of Technology found carbon nanotubes – particles similar to those found in dusts and vehicle exhausts – in the bronchial tubes of children with asthma.

This deterioration in general air quality has been linked to a significant increase in respiratory allergies, and studies show that as many as two-thirds of children with asthma are also affected by other allergies.


Education and prevention: the fight against asthma


In order to encourage people with asthma to be pro-active in managing their condition, lung specialists emphasize the importance of education and prevention.

In fact, among child asthmatics alone, WHO estimates that increased public awareness of the disease and optimal strategies for its prevention could prevent up to 25,000 deaths each year.

Along with monitoring and the appropriate treatment to prevent and manage attacks, education can help to avoid known triggers and develop good habits. 


To go further and develop effective solutions, Sanofi Genzyme and Regeneron are committed to providing resources to advance research in respiratory.

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