Newswise — One in 12 Americans have asthma - according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released recently – the highest rate ever.

“More than 18 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma, but many people have the disease and don’t even know it,” said allergist Dr. John Winder. “No one with asthma should ever have to suffer. With proper diagnosis and treatment, anyone with the condition should be able to feel good, be active all day and sleep well at night. But the first step is identifying those who are at risk.”

To help do that, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) offers free asthma and allergy screenings through its 16th annual Nationwide Asthma Screening Program. The screenings take place in public places throughout the country. A list of screening is available at

“Screening for asthma is quick and painless – you simply answer a questionnaire about your breathing, take a lung function test that involves blowing into a tube, and talk to an allergist,” said Winder. “Many people think of asthma as ‘attacks’ but the symptoms can be as subtle as a cough at night or having trouble catching your breath going up stairs.”

More than 130,000 people have been screened for asthma through the Nationwide Asthma Screening Program, and half have been referred for a diagnosis.

According to the CDC, asthma affects 8.4 percent of Americans, and 18.7 adults and 7 million children have the disease. Asthma is more prevalent in children (9.5 percent are affected). In 2009, almost 3,400 people died from asthma. The estimated costs to society were $50.1 billion for medical expenses, and $3.8 billion for missing work and school.

To find a free screening or an allergist, a doctor who is an expert in treating asthma, visit