Asthma is a condition in which your airways narrow and swell and produce extra mucus. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening asthma attack. Asthma can't be cured, but its symptoms can be controlled. With proper care, most people with asthma can live normal, active lives.
Asthma is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. It is not contagious and cannot be cured, but it can be controlled with medication. There are two types of asthma:
The symptoms of asthma can appear suddenly, or they may come on gradually. They may be mild or severe, and they can vary from day to day. Common symptoms of asthma include: • coughing • wheezing • shortness of breath • chest tightness • difficulty sleeping • fatigue
Asthma symptoms can be triggered by: • allergens, such as dust, pollen, or animal fur • viral infections • cold air • exercise • strong emotions • some medications, such as beta blockers • air pollution • smoke
If you have asthma, you should see a doctor for regular checkups and to discuss your symptoms and medication. If you have severe asthma, you may need to carry an inhaler with you at all times. Asthma can be controlled with medication. The most common type of medication is an inhaled corticosteroid, which reduces inflammation in the airways. Other types of medication include: • bronchodilators, which open the airways • leukotriene inhibitors, which block the action of a substance that causes airway inflammation • theophylline, which relaxes the muscles around the airways
Asthma can be a serious condition, but it can be controlled with medication. If you have asthma, you should see a doctor for regular checkups and to discuss your symptoms and medication.