Asthma

Asthma is an incurable lung condition that results in chronic inflammation, coughing, chest tightness, and breathing difficulties, and in some instances it can be fatal. Its severity can differ from person to person, and also along a person’s life course.

About 25 million people in the US currently have asthma, representing approximately 1 in every 13 people, and including over 5 million children.

Most with asthma live normal lives and engage in physical activity without their condition being a significant impediment. How are they sharing their condition on social media? 

Search Trends

The Trends Section provides an overview of some of the most recent and relevant topics that relate to particular health conditions.

It features a selection of the topics that have the fastest growing Google search interest across the last three months, and reflects the inquiries of patients, healthcare providers, scientists, and others who are invested in the topic.

This is valuable to understand people’s interests and concerns at the present moment, and often include the U.S. states that have the highest interest in a topic. 

Quilt.AI brings these trends to life through an analysis that incorporates both cultural and scientific lenses.

When people are looking to manage asthma, what drugs are they considering?

What is trending on search for Asthma?

Search interest for Montelukast weight gain grew 432% in the last 3 months, from May 2022 to July 2022.

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1. Weighty concerns around Montelukast

People are concerned about weight gain as a side effect of montelukast (brand name: Singulair), with searches significantly up from May 2022. 

Despite the fact that weight gain is not indicated as a common side effect of this drug, there is anecdotal evidence from online patient forums that drugs like Singulair can lead to weight gain. 

On August 6, the FDA approved the first generic versions of this drug. With this approval, more people may be considering a shift to montelukast, and are looking carefully at potential side effects. 

HCPs and drug brands need to close the gap between the formal and informal discourse on montelukast’s weight gain risks.

2. The high cost of alleviating asthma

Symbicort is a combination inhaler containing budesonide (to reduce inflammation) and formoterol (to relax the airways). It is a popular choice for asthma management.

The cost of the inhaler is over $300 for a 30-day supply, with widely varying out-of-pocket costs depending on insurance coverage. 

Symbicort maker AstraZeneca acknowledges this potential affordability barrier and has established a patient assistance program for those who are uninsured or otherwise unable to afford Symbicort. 

The FDA approved the first generic version of Symbicort in March. The rising searches for the cost of the drug may be a reflection of people choosing between the drug’s generic and branded versions.

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Search interest for Symbicort cost grew 231% in the last 3 months, from May 2022 to July 2022.

Search interest for chop asthma pathway grew 145% in the last 3 months, from May 2022 to July 2022.

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3. Summer sparks childhood asthma worries

“CHOP asthma pathway” refers to the guidelines for evaluating and treating pediatric asthma patients in the emergency room. It was created by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and includes a scale that ranks the severity of the asthma crisis.

The sharp increase in interest for these guidelines is likely driven by the weather changes that have come with the summer months. High heat, high humidity, and sudden weather changes are known asthma triggers. This year’s unusually hot conditions have likely led to increased incidence of asthma attacks and increased concern among parents.

4. New relief for kids with asthma

Asmanex Twisthaler is among the most popular asthma management drugs. It contains the drug mometasone furoate. When taken daily, it works to prevent asthma attacks. 

In August, the FDA granted pediatric approval to this drug – that is, it can now be prescribed to asthma patients 5 years old and up. 

The increased search interest for Asmanex is likely driven by anticipation of this approval among parents of kids with asthma.

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Search interest for Asmanex grew 25% in the last 3 months, from May 2022 to July 2022.

Search interest for asthma humidity grew 23% in the last 3 months, from May 2022 to July 2022.

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5. Humidity spells trouble for those with asthma

There was an increase in search interest about how humidity impacts asthma across the past three months, with the most searches coming from California, New York, Texas, and Florida. Searches for ‘asthma humidity,’ ‘does humidity affect asthma,’ and ‘is humidity bad for asthma’ were all elevated.

Certain weather conditions and abrupt weather changes are known to trigger asthma, and can create situations where an attack must be promptly managed. Weather across the country not only got hotter and more humid in many places from May through June, but these conditions also increased levels of molds, dust mites, and ground-level ozone – all known asthma triggers. It is likely that more people were struggling with asthma during this time.

Asthma in Culture

The Culture Section highlights emerging cultural trends, new products, and notable dialogue about a variety of health conditions. The purpose of this section is to zoom in on what has been happening within the cultural and professional landscape of a particular health condition–stories that are often missed by quantitative searches.

By featuring influential social media items, patient discourse, professional dialogue, product innovations, and impactful news items, this section illuminates the lived experiences of many patients, while also providing a snapshot of the developments happening around them. 

Here, Quilt.AI offers a detailed and nuanced perspective of what is new and what is meaningful.

1. Breathless laughter: asthma humor on TikTok 

People are taking to TikTok to share humorous videos about living with asthma. The hashtag  #asthmahumor has over 718K views, and the broader hashtag #itainteasybeingwheezy that emcompasses a variety of lung conditions including asthma has over 46M views. Many align breathing-themed lyrics of popular songs to videos chronicling their struggles with asthma. 

This is a productive way of coping with many of the fears and inconveniences that asthma brings to patients’ lives. These videos offer comic relief and build solidarity among those with the condition. Some of these videos have been posted by loved ones or coaches who use humor to support a person with asthma.

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@jazzthornton_ Turns out dancing for a long time + smoke machines is not ideal. Ty medics for looking after me as soon as we cut 😂 #asthma #dance ♬ No Air - Jordin Sparks

2. Experts give asthma information and tips on TikTok 

A wide range of HCPs – both medical doctors and alternative healthcare practitioners – are giving asthma advice through TikTok videos. The popularity of these videos indicates that many people with asthma are turning to social media to better understand how to manage their condition with the advice of credible sources. 

Dr. Rubin (@rubin_allergy), an immunologist in Illinois, posted a video discussing the signs that asthma is not well-controlled; the video has been viewed over 28K times. A Cleveland Clinic video posted in June, featuring pulmonologist Dr. Hadeh giving exercise tips to those with asthma, has already been viewed over 6K times. Dr. Eileen (@anew.acu), a Connecticut-based acupuncturist, gives asthma breathing exercises in her video; the video has over 42K views. 

3.  Venting about asthma on Reddit

Reddit’s active asthma community has accumulated 24.5K members since it started 11 years ago. It hosts a diverse range of topics related to the condition, including exercise and lifestyle tips, navigating insurance and other financial topics related to asthma management, medication side effects, mental health, as well as more lighthearted discussions about the aesthetics of asthma inhalers and various accessories. 

The subreddit’s name, Asthma: A Place to Breathe, is appropriate for many of the threads, as it serves as a place to vent about the many facets of life that asthma can impact. Online communities such as this one are important resources for people with asthma to obtain both information and social support. 

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4. Living with asthma on TikTok

Many on TikTok are showing how they manage their asthma on a daily basis, as well as through moments of acute crisis (where they might need a nebulizer mask or even  hospital admission). This ‘time out’ from normal life can be very frustrating. 

Other videos highlight that asthma management sometimes requires patients to jump through many hoops – for instance, when a prescription is required for an emergency medication. Some of those who have been newly diagnosed with asthma have also posted videos that show them overwhelmed with a new regimen of medications. 

Used in these ways, TikTok can be considered an asthma support community that provides a valuable sense of being understood and supported, esp. to people who are new to the condition.

@maisvault

Who knew asthma could be so fun

♬ original sound - Mai

5. Asthma in public figures spurs public discussion

Pop star Harry Styles and football player Treylon Burks were trending topics in searches related to asthma over the past three months. People have taken to social media to discuss to their breathing challenges and inhaler use, especially because they have physically demanding jobs where their performance is critical.

Burks, a Tennessee Titans rookie wide receiver, revealed that he has asthma in July, which confirmed a great deal of speculation about his health and conditioning (a variety of recent articles have discussed his diagnosis). There has long been speculation that Styles has asthma and YouTube videos posted by fans in May and June have further stirred interest in his health.As with many chronic medical conditions, seeing public figures navigate and thrive with the condition normalizes their experiences and provides inspiration to patients.