What is Asthma?

Accoring to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Asthma is a chronic disease that affects your airways. Airways are tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. If you have asthma, the inside walls of your airways become sore and swollen. That makes them very sensitive, and they may react strongly to things that you are allergic to or find irritating. When your airways react, they get narrower and your lungs get less air.

Doctors diagnose asthma based on lung function tests, medical history, allergy tests, and a physical exam. Asthma is treated with 2 types of medicine:
1. Fast acting medicine: These medicines are used to stop asthma symptoms (bringing the asthmatic person quick relief).
2. Long-term control medicine: These medicines are used to prevent the symptoms of asthma.

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Symptoms of asthma

1. Shortness of breath
2. Wheezing
3. Chest tightness
4. Coughing (especially early in the morning or at night)

What's an asthma attack?

When your asthma symptoms are worse than usual, that's an asthma attack. In addition to the symptoms above, other warning signs of an asthma attack are:
1. Itchy neck
2. Dark circles under your eyes
3. Feeling tired
4. Short-tempered
5. Nervousness

Severe asthma attacks may require emergency care, and they can be fatal. It's important to seek emergency help as soon as possible.

Things that trigger asthma

1. Allergies / seasonal allergies
2. Air pollution & irritants (cigarette smoke, wood smoke, paint fumes, perfume, etc.)
3. Physical activity/ exercise
4. Infections linked to a cold, flu, or sinus.
5. Weather (high humidity, breathing in cold, dry air)
6. Strong emotions (which cause hyperventilation)

Everyone has different triggers. What bothers one person may not bother another. It's important to learn your tiggers, so you can avoid them.

Learn more about allergies & allergists:

What is allergy testing?
What are allergies?
What is an allergist?