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Asthma can be a long-term condition in your lungs that affects your airways and makes it hard to breathe. 

Asthma symptoms such as cough, chest tightness, difficulty breathing or wheezing can start due to triggers, such as pollen, exercise, infections or cold air. When the symptoms get worse, you may have an asthma attack.

Over the long term, asthma may lead to lung damage, sleep apnea, pregnancy complications, lung infections, acid reflux, anxiety and depression. It is important to talk with your health care provider about making an Asthma Action Plan [PDF] which includes medications and knowing when to take them.   

Causes of Asthma

Asthma often starts during childhood when your immune system is still developing. According to the National Institutes of Health, asthma can result from a variety of factors, including:

  • Exposure to germs, cigarette smoke and other things in the environment (called allergens) that affected you as a baby or young child
  • Family history, such as a parent who has asthma (especially your mother)
  • Viral infections that affect breathing

Risk Factors for Asthma

  • Pollen or air pollution 
  • Allergies or dry skin such as eczema
  • Animal dander and fur
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Being obese
  • Breathing chemicals or dust in the workplace

Preventing Asthma

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, there are several ways to reduce your risk for asthma. 

  • Reduce contact with dust mites and some other airborne substances
  • Give children early exposure to animals
  • Protect your children from exposure to cigarette smoke
  • Breastfeed for at least four to six months to strengthen children’s immune systems

Asthma in Bexar County

According to the Status of Asthma 2019-2020: Bexar County, Texas [PDF], about 12% of Bexar County adults surveyed in 2020 reported ever having asthma. 

Figure 1: Prevalence of Asthma in Bexar County Data from City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, 2020

Bexar County’s asthma hospitalization rate is consistently higher than that of Texas. 

Asthma hospitalization rates in children are higher for boys than for girls. Among adults, however, asthma hospitalization rates are considerably higher for women than men. This is consistent with national trends. 

Figure 2: Hospitalization Rates for Asthma in Bexar County Data from City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, 2020

Racial/ethnic disparities in asthma persist in Texas and Bexar County. In Texas, 17% of non-Hispanic (NH)-black adults surveyed in 2020 reported having asthma, compared to 13% of NH-white adults and 10% of Hispanic/Latino adults. In Bexar County, NH-blacks experience a higher rate of asthma hospitalization than NH-whites and Hispanics/Latinos.

Some San Antonio ZIP codes have higher rates of asthma, including: 

  • 78201
  • 78202
  • 78203
  • 78220
  • 78228
  • 78229 
  • 78237 

However, hospitalization rates in these ZIP codes improved when comparing 2018 to 2019, except for 78220, where the asthma hospitalization rate worsened from 2018 to 2019.

University Health Resources 

University Health Primary Care

University Health primary care providers can help refer you to a specialist or create your Asthma Action Plan [PDF].

University Health Lung Care

University Health lung care specialists have experience and expertise when it comes to treatments in pulmonary care.

Our team includes pulmonologists who diagnose and treat a wide range of lung conditions in adults and children as well as hospitalist that provide evidence-based care and asthma protocols for our patients. 

Asthma Action Plan

Everyone with asthma needs their own Asthma Action Plan [PDF]. Talk with your doctor about creating a plan that will help you prevent and control asthma attacks.

Asthma Self-Management Education

You can take the lead in managing your condition, and University Health will help you learn how to do it well. University Health offers Asthma Education classes for children. A doctor's referral is required.

Help to Quit Smoking

If smoking is a habit you would like to stop, we can help. University Health’s smoking cessation program and Texas’ Yes Quit program offer you support and encouragement when you’re ready to break the hold cigarettes have on your life, breathe easier and live healthier. Our doctors can also help make referrals to the Texas Tobacco Quit line. 

Asthma Matters

Asthma Matters provides the tools you or your child needs to prevent asthma symptoms and improve well-being. Join Asthma Matters to get educational information, an asthma supply kit, a peak flow meter and up to $10 in gift cards for health-related items. Asthma Matters is only available to members of Community First Health Plans.

Community Resources 

SA Kids B.R.E.A.T.H.E.

SA Kids B.R.E.A.T.H.E. is a free San Antonio program whose primary goal is to improve the quality of the lives of children with asthma by educating families. The SA Kids B.R.E.A.T.H.E. program aims to help kids stay out of the hospital, keep kids in school, keep parents at work, and save families and health systems money. Anyone can refer including a parent/caretaker for the child.