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Why Asthma Is Becoming a Growing Social Concern in the United States

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Description

Why Asthma Is Becoming a Growing Social Concern in the United States

Purpose

The purpose of the paper is to explain how asthma is becoming a growing social concern in the United States and why it is becoming more prevalent. It will focus on research that has been done previously and from a social perspective, the implications the disease has had on the lives of the citizens.

Research Question

Why is asthma affecting a larger population in the United States?

Key Concepts

The research paper focuses on key concepts, which include, Asthma prevalence on minority groups in the United States, Asthma prevalence on adults in minority communities in the united states, why the country is in need of a better healthcare model going forward, the failure by the government to address asthma and what the government can do for asthma patients. These are just a few of the ideas that the paper seeks to address among many more.

Why Asthma Is Becoming a Growing Social Concern in the United States

Theoretical Perspective

The social conflict theory is the best theory to focus on because it has more health benefits that can be achieved. It highlights the struggle for basic needs that different communities go through to obtain these resources. In the USA today, Asthma is a disease that affects the population of blacks, Whites, and Hispanics on a different scale. The social conflict perspective is highlighted by the need for power, and this is explained by the views of Karl Max. Max investigated how workers were manipulated and used at the workplace. This extends to social conflict in healthcare due to the obvious inequalities that exist.

Health outcomes would be better for all people if inequality did not exist based on race and, or class. The fact that inequality exists becomes a social conflict concern. Minority communities are largely affected due to lifestyle, environmental factors, housing, and income. It is already a major concern globally today, however in the United States; the trend is that it is more prevalent among certain groups of people. This creates a social conflict in terms of the priorities of the government vis-à-vis the priorities of the human person and these groups that are being sidelined. A large percentage of Black and Hispanic children live in difficult conditions. The kind of environment they live in is contrary to what human activists fight for. These are the kinds of environment under which Asthma thrives in. the disparity in terms of numbers supports this, it proves that these social conflict factors are the main reasons for concern to the increasing prevalance of Asthma among Blacks and Hispanic children.

Other nations have taken steps to reduce and control the incidence of asthma, in the United States however, the cost of caring for an Asthma patient is high, and many people may be unable to afford the cost per year. Many people are of the view that healthcare should be the number one priority when it comes to the role of any government due to the human nature we all possess. This, however, does not seem to be the case today. Asthma is a concern in the United States, that needs to be given more attention by everybody, more so the leadership due to its increasing prevalence in the USA.

Why Asthma Is Becoming a Growing Social Concern in the United States

 

Findings

In the year 2007, nine percent of children between the ages of two and seventeen were reported to have asthma in the United States of America[1]. This is a colossal figure, and as such requires prompt action. The USA is a global superpower and is capable of conducting research that may help in reducing the prevalence of the disease. Asthma is a disease that is caused by both environmental and hereditary factors; understanding these factors early in life may be a starting point in attempting to prevent or control asthma in young children. Underage children are the future of our nation, the prevalence of asthma at 9 per cent is really high as compared to previous years.. Studies have shown that black children and Hispanics in this country are more affected by asthma-related illnesses[2]. Little is known about the reasons for these, but financial aspects may play a factor due to the modes by which these children get asthma, case in point is asthma contracted due to environmental factors. Little research has been done about asthma in the Asian community living in the USA, but it still is understood that there is a valid reason for more to be done. America is a growing nation with different subgroups. Research has shown that there is little or no research in asthma prevalence in some of these subgroups. These groups include Asian Americans and those that identify themselves as Asian Indians, most of the individuals that make up these subgroups fail to turn up for health surveys that may be important in analyzing their health defects, majorly, asthma in this case. The national health interview survey conducted between 2001 and 2005 showed those children born in the United States were more likely to have current asthma as compared to those born outside. This is shocking because one may be quick to point out that most medical advancements occur right here in the USA.

Some people with little or no knowledge of Asthma may be quick to ask a question, is asthma a problem. Well to put this into perspective, the CDC conducted research and came up with figures to help us understand. A shocking truth that came out of this is a social aspect; this pointed to the fact that in 2007, 18 million adults and 7 million children had asthma[3]. This is fifteen per cent of the population. It translates to one in every eleven children and one in every twelve adults. Just from the abstract figures of adults, one in twelve and for children one in eleven, to conclude that the rate of asthma prevalence is rising, and if something is not done soon, we may soon have a national and even a global epidemic in the years to come. An economic perspective will help us understand the kind of numbers both the government and these families need to be able to control the disease. From research conducted by the CDC on Asthma, the average cost of healthcare for Asthma patients amounts to 56 billion dollars per year. Put into perspective, this is twice the national budget for Kenya, a country of forty million people. The average cost of healthcare per child was 1,039 dollars in 2009[4]. This value is probably higher as we speak. Some may ask the impact these figures have on the lives of the people of this country, well, these Asthma patients are school going children, some of the workers who contribute to the national workforce. A total of 24.7 million days of work and school are lost due to Asthma per year. This then shows the global disaster that is building up. The United States of America and the world need to find a solution to this global problem fast. Asthma is more prevalent than HIV/AIDs today, a disease that was a global concern a few years ago. The same way, HIV/AIDS even though it remains a concern, was contained, the same can be done for asthma. From research by the CDC, nine people die from Asthma each day[5]. When lives are lost, that is where the line has to be drawn, and countermeasures have to be launched, more specifically in the United States due to the sensitive nature of the matter and the mortality rate, which is higher than many countries in the world.Why Asthma Is Becoming a Growing Social Concern in the United States

Asthma patients may visit the emergency room frequently, depending on the nature of the attacks, which may be mild or severe. Asthma attacks are known to be brutal to the victims. This is due to the nature of the disease, and the factors of housing and the environment, which control its prevalence. Asthma is a chronic illness, and as such, during asthma attacks, the air passageways become inflamed, leading to difficulty in breathing for the victims. These attacks may be mild of at times severe. Mostly an inhaler would be adequate to stop the attack, but at times, it may require intervention by a medical professional. The CDC records show that 50percent of asthma patients had one or more asthma attacks in 2016. This puts into perspective the severity of the issue. Records from the CDC also show that 440,000 asthma-related discharges were reported[6]. This shows that an individual can have plenty of asthma attacks in the year and may require specialised aid. The government, in particular, has to work harder to curb the situation before it becomes worse.

Asthma has a huge mortality rate in the USA. In 2015, there were 3615 asthma-related deaths[7]. This may seem like a small number compared to the total mortalities in the whole country from other factors. However, put into perspective, asthma is a disease that can have a much smaller mortality rate if the drugs were subsidized further and better public awareness was done. This is down to the political and medical professionals. Ethics dictates that the primary basic concern for any leader is the lives of the people he/she represents. It is alarming that of all the presidential aspirants in the last American general election, none had asthma in their manifesto, despite the influence it has on the lives of a large percentage of citizens. Some had a general healthcare plan, but the tidbits in the plans did not have asthma as a major course for concern, not even the two major candidates, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump. Donald Trump based his campaign on topics which, also though significant, would be dwarfed by a subject everyone felt was important like asthma. This raises the question of whether the political class knows what is right for the nation. The numbers are staggering, there for all to see, but the political class seems to have their eyes set on different agendas. The push by the President to terminate Obama care can have a significant impact on the lives of those who depend on insurance due to chronic illnesses like asthma.Why Asthma Is Becoming a Growing Social Concern in the United States

In recent times, work-related Asthma, or Occupational Asthma has become prevalent in the United States. This was more prevalent in African American males. This is due to the work environment many are exposed to. This is necessarily one of the reasons asthma is a huge concern. In 2002, research showed that there was a lack of research in most companies on the kinds of allergens they expose the employees[8]. This is a major factor when analyzing asthma in the United States. The USA is a huge economy, with a large population of workers coming in from other countries via immigration. These individuals and the citizens of the country expect high standards in the workplace; most institutions are trying to adhere to it. However, some may try harder than others. This then becomes a problem because unless the issue of work-related asthma is addressed internally, many end up contracting asthma during, or after they leave their current job. A problem arises as to who compensates these individuals for the disease they contracted. The institutions are adamant because unless there is an investigation, there is no clear evidence as to where the employee contracted asthma. However, there is no denying that work-related asthma exists and it is a major global concern that has to be solved. In the proceedings of the American thoracic society, the members discussed the reduction of occupational asthma by reducing the exposure of employees to these allergens[9]. This can be done by automating some of the systems, or improving the safety gear that employees use at the workplace. This is important and may reduce the prevalence of occupational asthma.

One thing about asthma in the United States is the cost of maintaining the disease by the families who bear most of the burden. The cost of inhalers and drugs used by individuals living with asthma is overwhelmingly high in the United States compared to Europe. Elizabeth Rosenthal in her article in the New York Times attempted to bring this to perspective, she compared the cost of a steroid inhaler in the United States to Britain and found out that while the inhaler retailed at 175 dollars in the United States, it retailed for 20 dollars in Britain[10]. The difference is outrageous considering the rate of asthma per capita is much higher in the United States as compared to Britain; common sense would suggest that more subsidy on the product would be implemented in the United States as compared to Britain. Albuterol, a common Asthma medicine that has been used for a long time by Asthma patients retails at 50 to 100 dollars in the United States; the drug was 15 dollars a decade ago. One would expect the price to be slightly higher, but when it is seven times the initial price, then it becomes a concern. A prescription drug, Rhinocort Aqua, which was retailing for 250 dollars in 2012 in the United States, was sold over the counter in pharmacies in Europe[11]. This raises a question on the direction the United States is taking when dealing with health conditions. The United States today is a far more developed and modern economy than all the countries in the European Union, the only thing that could be keeping the prices of these essential drugs high is negligence on the part of those responsible.Why Asthma Is Becoming a Growing Social Concern in the United States

Even in top school districts, African American students lag behind. By senior year, the average African American high school student functions at a skill level four years behind the skill levels of white and Asian students. This, from a social justice perspective is not acceptable. The reason for this is attributed to the fact that the educational culture is not appeasing in minority neighborhoods. This contributes significantly to the health of these children. This is because some are naïve to the causes of Asthma due to lack of basic knowledge. Social theorists argue that education feels intimidating to the minority communities and hence, many see it as a waste of time. This leads to the many cases of college and middle school dropouts. The social environment is the schools in minority neighborhoods is not conducive for studying, as argued by social theorists[12].

Respiratory illnesses are the eighth leading cause of death for people in the Black community in the United States. According to the 2007 Youth Risk Behavioral Survey, African American teens were more likely than their white and Hispanic counterparts to have had asthma in their lifetime (24.0% African American, 18.5% Hispanic, and 19.6% white). African Americans were also more likely to have had asthma at the time of the survey (14.7% African American, 9.5% Hispanic, and 10.5% white).[13] Substance abuse is a major factor as to why these groups are more affected by Asthma. Asthma becomes more prevalent due to substance abuse, the use of drugs such as marijuana and cigarettes clearly accelerated the spread of Asthma. In Black and Hispanic communities, substance abuse increases in rate during early adolescence[14].

The relationship men in minority communities have to employment and the conditions under which they often must labor can play an important role in their health and psychological wellbeing. Asthma is on the top of the list for the diseases that men are likely to suffer from due to their work environment. Lack of job security, low wages, and dangerous working conditions often characterize the employment to which many African American men have access. These are characteristics of social conflict factors. Men are disproportionately represented in manual labor jobs, in which workplace conditions by their very nature may reinforce men’s stoic acculturation. Lifting heavy loads or working in the burning heat or the freezing cold necessitates high tolerance for discomfort, forcing men to detach from their feelings just to get through the workday. These are major factors that lead to Asthma as they affect the chest area and the lungs. In turn, these men may ignore pain and discomfort caused by Asthma and other illnesses. Over 90 percent of workplace fatalities occur among men, and African American men are disproportionately represented in manual labor jobs that are physically painful and hazardous[15].

 

Discussion

Asthma in the United States, just like the rest of the world is a growing concern. In the United States, cases of asthma both in adults and in children have been on the increase. The fact that more diagnoses are made every year may not indicate an increase, but research by the CDC indicates that there is cause for concern. The cost of drugs and hospital visits by Asthma patients is very high, and there is a need for more subsidy by the government. Research also indicates that more Hispanics and people in the black American community are contracting asthma that in the past. This may not be a racial factor, but it may be due to the environmental factors and partly, the difference in social class. Countries like Britain and other countries in Europe are considered to be doing a better job when it comes to asthma as compared to the United States.

An increase in the prevalence of asthma may have serious implications on the lives of the community. It may lead to loss of jobs due to frequent hospital visits. This may be harsh on a social scale, but the employers will try to view this on a corporate scale as a way to increase productivity. It may also hinder the careers on a large number of children if not controlled due to frequent hospital visits and lack of basic needs due to the cost of maintaining the disease.Why Asthma Is Becoming a Growing Social Concern in the United States

Conclusion-Why Asthma Is Becoming a Growing Social Concern in the United States

Social conflict theorists argue that the government has to do a better job when it comes to implementing proposals by the CDC and other bodies for they are in the interest of the citizens. On the other hand, functionalists would argue that individuals should try to improve their own healthy living standards to keep themselves healthy. However, what functionalists argue is contrary to the social conflict theory, which calls for equality. The functionalists would be correct if there was equality among the people. More should be done to create equality so that the health benefits that come with it can be attained in future.

 

Bibliography

“Asthma Statistics | AAAAI.” The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://www.aaaai.org/about-aaaai/newsroom/asthma-statistics.

Braithwaite, Ronald, Sandra Taylor and Henri Treadwell. (2011). Health Issues in the Black Community. 3rd edition

Brim, S. N., R. A. Rudd, R. H. Funk, and D. B. Callahan. “Asthma Prevalence among US Children in Underrepresented Minority Populations: American Indian/Alaska Native, Chinese, Filipino, and Asian Indian.” Pediatrics 122, no. 1 (2008). doi:10.1542/peds.2007-3825.

Conrad, Peter and Valerie Leiter (2010). The Sociology of Health and Illness: Critical Perspectives. 9th edition, New York. Worth publishers.

“CDC – Asthma.” Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed April 08, 2019. http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/

“Most Recent National Asthma Data | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/most_recent_national_asthma_data.htm.

Tarlo, S. M., and J.-L. Malo. “Official ATS Proceedings: Asthma in the Workplace: The Third Jack Pepys Workshop on Asthma in the Workplace: Answered and Unanswered Questions.” Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society 6, no. 4 (2009): 339-49. doi:10.1513/pats.200810-119st.

Williams, David R., Ronald L. Braithwaite, and Sandra E. Taylor. “Health Issues in the Black Community.” Contemporary Sociology 22, no. 5 (1993): 746. doi:10.2307/2074671.

 

[1] S. N. Brim et al., “Asthma Prevalence Among US Children in Underrepresented Minority Populations: American Indian/Alaska Native, Chinese, Filipino, and Asian Indian,” Pediatrics 122, no. 1 (2008): 2, doi:10.1542/peds.2007-3825.

[2] Braithwaite, Ronald, Sandra Taylor and Henri Treadwell. (2011). Health Issues in the Black Community. 3rd edition

[3]“CDC – Asthma,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed April 08, 2019, http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/.

[4] “CDC – Asthma,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed April 08, 2019, http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/.

[5]   “CDC – Asthma,” http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/.

[6] “Most Recent National Asthma Data | CDC,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed April 08, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/most_recent_national_asthma_data.htm

[7]“Asthma Statistics | AAAAI,” The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, accessed April 08, 2019, https://www.aaaai.org/about-aaaai/newsroom/asthma-statistics.

[8] S. M. Tarlo and J.-L. Malo, “An Official ATS Proceedings: Asthma in the Workplace: The Third Jack Pepys Workshop on Asthma in the Workplace: Answered and Unanswered Questions,” Proceedings of the American Thoracic Society 6, no. 4 (2009): 345, doi:10.1513/pats.200810-119st.

[9]  Conrad, Peter and Valerie Leiter (2010). The Sociology of Health and Illness: Critical Perspectives. 9th edition, New York. Worth publishers.

[10] Elisabeth Rosenthal, “The Soaring Cost of a Simple Breath,” The New York Times, October 19, 2018, accessed April 09, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/13/us/the-soaring-cost-of-a-simple-breath.html.

[11] Conrad, Peter and Valerie Leiter (2010). The Sociology of Health and Illness: Critical Perspectives. 9th edition, New York. Worth publishers.

[12] David R. Williams, Ronald L. Braithwaite, and Sandra E. Taylor, “Health Issues in the Black Community.,” Contemporary Sociology 22, no. 5 (1993): 43, doi:10.2307/2074671.

[13] David R. Williams, Ronald L. Braithwaite, and Sandra E. Taylor, “Health Issues in the Black Community.,” Contemporary Sociology 22, no. 5 (1993): 40, doi:10.2307/2074671.

[14] Davd R. Williams, Ronald L. Braithwaite, and Sandra E. Taylor, “Health Issues in the Black Community.,” Contemporary Sociology 22, no. 5 (1993): 41, doi:10.2307/2074671.

[15] David et. Al. “Health Issues in the Black Community.,” Contemporary Sociology 22, no. 5 (1993): 83