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Monday, February 10, 2014

Why is asthma easier on men?

Most asthma experts now recommend that every asthmatic
work with her asthma doctor to develop an asthma action plan
personally tailored to her.  This is a plan that will help you
recognize an attack and what action to take.
The following was originally published at by John Bottrell.

Risks of Asthma Attacks in Men

While there's no evidence to suggest male asthma attacks are any less severe than those of women, there is evidence to suggest that men are less likely to be admitted to the hospital for asthma, and less likely to die of asthma than women.  This evidence does not suggest, however, than male asthmatics need to be less concerned about their asthma than women.

What is the evidence?

According to a September, 2012, report by the American Lung Association (ALA), in 2011 men were 14 percent less likely to be diagnosed with asthma than women. For instance, in that year 5.1 million men were diagnosed with asthma compared with 8 million women, and this rate has been significant since 1999.

The report showed 10.8 million men had asthma compared with 15.2 million females. Men had a 35 percent less risk of developing asthma than women. Among adults over 18, men were 62 percent less likely to have asthma than women.

Men were also less likely to be admitted to the hospital for asthma.  For instance, in 2011 163,000 men were admitted for asthma compared with 278,000 women.  Between 1988 and 2010, asthma hospital admissions decreased 30 percent in males and only 19 percent in women.

In 2009, men were 50 percent less likely to die of an asthma attack than women. In 2009, for instance, 3,388 people died of asthma, and 36% of those deaths were men.

National Jewish Health ( notes that boys are more likely to have asthma than girls, although this trend begins to reverse at puberty.  By the age of 40, men are 50% less likely to have asthma than women.

The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology ( suggests that asthma is more likely to go into remission after puberty in boys than girls, and studies have confirmed this.

All of these statistics lead to an overall decline in adult male asthmatics compared to adult female asthmatics.

Why is asthma easier on men?

It's actually a mystery why asthma is easier on men than women, according to Partners Asthma Center (  However, there are a a couple theories worth considering.

First, male air passages start to become more fully developed starting with puberty.  So while girl lungs may be more fully developed than boy lungs, adult male lungs may be more fully developed than adult female lungs.

A second theory suggests that men don't have to deal with a menstrual cycle, menopause, or pregnancy. Therefore, men do not have to deal with high levels of estrogen and progesterone, which may narrow air passages.

A third theory suggests men spend more time away from the home, and therefore have less exposure to dust and viral infections, two very common asthma triggers.

What does this mean?

So asthma seems to be easier on men than women.  Does this mean that male asthmatics have it easier than female asthmatics?  Well, not really.

The truth is, there is no evidence that, even though male asthma attacks seem to occur less frequently, that they are any less severe.

Asthma, whether occurring in a man or a woman, should always be taken seriously.

What action should be taken?

The rules for what to do when you have asthma are the same regardless of whether you are male or female.  You'll need to see an asthma doctor and see him regularly. You'll need to work with him to determine the best asthma medicine regime.  You'll need to work with him to learn your asthma triggers and how to avoid them. You'll need to work with him to learn your asthma symptoms and how to recognize them early.  And you'll need to work with him to create an asthma action plan to help you recognize an attack is impending, and what action to take.

Conclusion:  It's true male asthmatics have fewer asthma attacks than women, yet that does not mean men should take their asthma any less seriously than women. By working with your doctor and being compliant with your asthma treatment, all men should be able to live a normal life with asthma.

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