Women & asthma

Image: Sinclair Broadcast Group

More than 26 million Americans have asthma.

Studies show the disease causes ten deaths every day in the United States.

Lorrie Justice tries to stay carefree, but she never knows when asn asthma attack will hit.

Suddenly, she has to pour all her energy into preserving the most basic function of life.

"You can't get a breath in, you can't get a breath out," said Justice. "It almost feels like you're breathing through one of those coffee stirrer straws."

Lorrie has had asthma since she was six months old.

She remembers having to repeat third grade because the disease was so severe.

"Oh it was very scary, there were several times when they thought I would not live."

"It's huge - it's the most common chronic disease in childhood, causes over 50 billion dollars in medical costs each year," said Dr. Stephen Kimura.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 13 people has asthma.

Dr. Stephen Kimura said symptoms can range from mild and even mysterious, like an itching in the chest, to severe cases like Lorrie's that send people to intensive care.

The specific cause is not known, but the triggers are.

"I'm allergic to over 30 pollens like grass pollen, oak, pine, you know."

Allergies are the most common trigger.

Other include pollution, chemical fumes and smoke.

Anxiety and stress can be triggers.

"There are things that trigger that you can't avoid."

Kimura said even if people are having mild symptoms, they should see a doctor.

"Unfortunately still we have about ten people die from asthma, every day, which is amazing, and it should not be," said Kimura.

Lorrie carries a rescue inhaler wherever she goes, keeps up with her medications and avoids the triggers she can.

There's no cure for asthma, but her life and her smile offer hope.

"It’s OK to live with asthma, you can deal with it."