Asthma is a condition that causes difficulty in breathing. The condition is a lung disease that causes airways to narrow with swelling and increased mucus production. Asthma can be fatally dangerous for some people who suffer from it, while it may be only a minor nuisance for others.
The condition often interferes with everyday activities and exercise. Most recognize the wheezing and shortness of breath that might be brought on from an asthma attack. Breathing polluted air or increasing physical activity can bring on an asthma attack. Often, patients feel completely fine all the way up until their asthma flares or they experience an asthma attack.
People of all ages can suffer from asthma, but it typically starts during childhood. Over 25 million Americans have asthma, and about 7 million of those with asthma are children. Asthma can’t be cured, but the symptoms can be managed and controlled.
Asthma may change over time, requiring treatments to be adjusted as well. Patients should form strong relationships with their healthcare providers to seek successful and thorough treatment.
Asthma not only ranges in severity from person to person, but it often exhibits symptoms similar to allergies. This can make it difficult for individuals to diagnose on their own without the help of a doctor administering breathing tests.
Typically, asthma attacks happen during certain times (like when you exercise), but you may have symptoms all of the time. Symptoms of asthma include:
Since asthma can change over time, look out for increased symptoms, more frequent attacks, worsened breathing, and the need to use a quick-relief inhaler more frequently. If you believe your symptoms are changing or worsening, it is time to visit your healthcare provider and reevaluate your treatment plan.
No one knows exactly why asthma occurs, though researchers suspect a combination of genetic or environmental factors cause asthma. Common risk factors associated with the onset of asthma include:
If you have increased risk factors for developing asthma (like you have parents with asthma), then exposure to irritants will likely affect your lungs further. Triggers for asthma will differ from person to person and may include:
Because uncontrolled asthma attacks can be fatal, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider if you suspect you are at risk for asthma and notice some of the common symptoms.