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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county & community efforts.

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What is Asthma?

Contact the Florida Asthma Program

Asthma is a chronic (long-term) condition that involves inflammation of the airways. The airways are tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. If you have asthma, the airways can become inflamed and narrowed at times. People with asthma have airways that are hyperresponsive, meaning that the airways react to asthma triggers such as colds, cigarette smoke and exercise faster and more intensely than people whose airways are normal.

When the airways react, the lining of the airways become inflamed, the muscles around them tighten, causing a narrowing of the airways, and the cells in the airways might make more mucus than usual. These reactions cause less air flow into the lungs making it harder to breathe.

 Approximately 1 in 8 Florida adults and 1 in 9 Florida children have asthma. However, asthma is more common and more severe among children, women, low-income and inner-city residents, and African-American and Puerto Rican communities. In addition to considerable impacts on quality of life, the economic cost of asthma is sizeable. Direct medical costs (such as hospital admissions, emergency room visits, and the cost of pharmaceuticals) and indirect costs (such as time lost from work, school absenteeism, and premature death) weigh heavily on individuals, the health care system, and schools.graphic of a helathy airway and an inflamed airway.