About asthma

Asthma is a respiratory disease defined by the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) as:

“a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways in which many cells and cellular elements play a role. The chronic inflammation is associated with airway hyperresponsiveness that leads to recurrent episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing, particularly at night or in the early morning. These episodes are usually associated with widespread, but variable, airflow obstruction within the lung that is often reversible either spontaneously or with treatment.” 1

It is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases worldwide (Figure 1), affecting an estimated 235 million people.2  Annual worldwide asthma deaths have been estimated at 250,000 and most of these deaths occur in low and lower-middle income countries.2,3

Asthma seriously affects the quality of life of patients and their families – the Global Asthma Physician and Patient Survey found that 41% of patients are limited in their daily activities by asthma.4

Worldwide, complete asthma control is uncommon in children. Parents often underestimate their children’s disease severity and overestimate their degree of asthma control,both of which can have an impact on adherence to treatment.

Section 1.0 Fig1

Figure 1: Worldwide prevalence of clinical asthma6

Reproduced with permission from Wiley & Sons. 


  1. The Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention. Available from: 2012.
  2. World Health Organization Fact Sheet on Asthma. May 2011.
  3. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012: Executive Summary. 2011.
  4. Canonica GW, Baena-Cagnani CE, Blaiss MS, et al. Unmet needs in asthma: Global Asthma Physician and Patient (GAPP) Survey: global adult findings. Allergy 2007;62:668-74.
  5. Carroll WD, Wildhaber J and Brand PL. Parent misperception of control in childhood/adolescent asthma: The room to breathe survey. Eur Respir J 2011;39:90-6.
  6. Masoli M, Fabian D, Holt S, et al. The global burden of asthma: executive summary of the GINA Dissemination Committee report. Allergy 2004;59:469-78.

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