Asthma is a disease that affects a person’s breathing and may limit their ability to get fresh air to their lungs.
Wisconsin Tracking provides data and information on asthma.
Read the frequently asked questions below for more information about asthma.
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Join the environmental health listserv by sending an email to DHS Environmental Public Health Tracking with the subject line "Join envhealth listserv."
What is asthma?
Asthma is a disease that affects a person’s breathing and can make it hard to get oxygen to their lungs. For people with asthma, the inside of their airways can swell or become irritated and inflamed. This irritation leads to wheezing and coughing.
To learn more about asthma, visit the Wisconsin Asthma Program.
What causes asthma?
The root causes of asthma are not entirely understood. However, specific triggers are known to cause breathing problems for people with asthma. More information about asthma is available from the Wisconsin Asthma Program.
How is asthma related to the environment?
There is strong evidence linking asthma and being in contact with allergens, tobacco smoke, and indoor and outdoor air pollution. Research shows a connection between increased hospital admissions for asthma and particulate matter, a type of outdoor air pollution.
Why does Wisconsin Tracking track asthma?
Gathering data on asthma trends allows public health professionals to identify high-risk groups, evaluate current prevention efforts, and plan programs and policies to reduce the burden of asthma.
With Wisconsin Tracking data, public health professionals can answer questions such as:
How many people go to the emergency room for asthma each month?
Is there a relationship between the season and how many people visit the ER or are hospitalized for asthma?
How do hospitalizations or ER visits for asthma differ between zip codes and counties?
Are there disparities in asthma hospitalizations or ER visits among different age groups, races, ethnicities, and genders?
Which populations are in greatest need of programs, policies, or other interventions to address asthma?
How do levels of certain environmental exposures, such as particulate matter, relate to asthma hospitalizations and ER visits?
What is the data source?
The source of these data is the Wisconsin Hospital Association Information Center, Inc. To calculate rates, these data are combined with population data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
Which measures does Wisconsin Tracking have for asthma?
- Annual number of asthma hospitalizations and ER visits by age, gender, race/ethnicity, and location
- Monthly average of hospitalizations and ER visits
- Monthly maximum daily number of hospitalizations and ER visits
- Monthly minimum daily number of hospitalizations and ER visits
- Daily number of hospitalizations and ER visits
- Annual unadjusted (crude) rate for asthma hospitalizations and ER visits, by age, gender, race/ethnicity, and location
- Annual age-specific rates of asthma hospitalizations and ER visits, by age, gender, race/ethnicity, and location
- Annual age-adjusted rate of asthma hospitalizations and ER visits, by age, gender, race/ethnicity, and location
What are some considerations for interpreting the data?
- Because these data are based on hospital admissions and emergency department visits, some people who experience symptoms are not included. These people include: those who do not receive medical care, those whose care does not result in hospitalization, and those who die in settings such as ambulances, nursing homes, or at home.
- Data from years 2000 to present include hospitalizations among Wisconsin residents who were treated in Minnesota hospitals. In addition, data from years 2005 to present include hospitalizations among Wisconsin residents who were treated in Iowa hospitals.
- Data from years 2002 to present include emergency department visits among Wisconsin residents who were seen in Minnesota hospitals. In addition, data from years 2005 to present include emergency department visits among Wisconsin residents who were treated in Iowa hospitals.
- These data do not include inpatient admissions or emergency department visits at hospitals owned by the federal government. This includes Veterans Administration hospitals.
- Data users should keep in mind that many factors contribute to a disease. These factors should be considered when interpreting the data. Factors include:
- Demographics (race, gender, age)
- Socioeconomic status (income level, education)
- Geography (rural, urban)
- Changes in the medical field (diagnosis patterns, reporting requirements)
- Individual behavior (diet, smoking)
Where can I learn more about asthma?
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Wisconsin Asthma Program
- Wisconsin Children's Health Alliance - Wisconsin Asthma Coalition
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Asthma
- Environmental Protection Agency - Asthma
- American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology - Asthma
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services - Children and the Environment
- Harvard University - Key Words in Plain Language: Asthma