Sex and Gender-based Analysis of this topic
Asthma is one of the most prevalent chronic health conditions for Canadian children and also affects many adults. Symptoms or asthma attacks usually occur after exposure to allergens, viral respiratory infections, exercise, or irritant fumes or gases. These exposures cause both an inflammation of the airway wall and abnormal narrowing of the airways, causing symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and wheezing.
Young boys develop asthma more often compared to young girls, however this trend reverses with age with more adult women developing asthma. As well, cases of bronchitis and emphysema have not declined significantly among men as they have for women. Some women report that their asthma symptoms change during their pregnancy and may need to be monitored closely as this may be linked with hormone changes.
Women are more likely to end up in the hospital as a result of their asthma difficulties and are more likely to die from the disease compared to men. Female smokers may be more likely to suffer from asthma compared to male smokers.
Smoking around children is an important health issue as exposing the fetus, infant, or young child to tobacco smoke increases the risk of asthma. Asthma is more prevalent among low-income adults over 35 years of age. It is likely that having a low-income exacerbates pre-existing asthma symptoms as a result of living in polluted neighbourhoods, poor dietary habits, and working in hazardous environments. Furthermore, women with less education, and possibly lower incomes, are more likely to be at risk for hospitalization from their asthma symptoms compared to women with more education.
Research that has focused on asthma often relies on questionnaire data, most of which comes from questions regarding previous physician diagnosis and asthma-like symptoms. As with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, epidemiological studies may not accurately capture accurate incidence and/or prevalence rates because of the questions used in the surveys. Other studies that rely on self-report data may provide an overestimation of asthma cases. As well, many different studies use different questions and wording which makes it hard to compare the data.