Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition of the airways that leads to reversible and episodic troubled breathing. Affecting approximately7 million children in the United States, asthma is the most common childhood chronic disease. However, adults can also have asthma (17 million in the United States alone). When an asthma “attack” or episode occurs, the lining of the lungs becomes inflamed and swollen while the muscles that surround airways spasm and fill with mucus. An asthma episode is characterized by restricted airways and difficulty breathing with symptoms of wheezing, chest tightness, and breathlessness. The cause of inflammation is unknown, but it is thought to be due to a variety of genetic and environmental factors. While asthma can be frightening as a parent or a person dealing with symptoms, there are ways to manage the condition by avoiding triggers and using medications correctly. Many with asthma can live normal, active lives by following their asthma action plan designed with their healthcare team.
- Wheezing (whistling sound when you exhale)
- Rapid breathing
- Coughing (worse at night and in the morning)
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath