Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Nursing Best Practice Guidelines

Background - Fact about Asthma in Adults

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways

  • Typical symptoms include shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing and/or coughing.
  • Airflow limitation in asthma is reversible.
  • The severity of an asthma episode can range from mild to life-threatening and last from minutes to days.
  • Common asthma triggers include irritants, allergens, and viral infections.
  • Allergic rhinitis, sinusitis or gastroesophageal reflux may aggravate asthma.
  • An individual’s triggers may change over time.
  • Almost 1 million people in Ontario have been diagnosed with asthma.
  • 6 in 10 individuals with asthma are poorly controlled.
  • Asthma is implicated in 155 deaths per year in Ontario.
  • Most asthma related deaths are preventable.
  • Annual costs in Ontario for asthma may be as high as 2.5 billion dollars per year.
  • Most individuals with asthma accept poorly controlled asthma as normal or do not recognize that their asthma is out of control.
  • Many physicians are not aware when their clients’ asthma is out of control.