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Staying Healthy

About Asthma

Smiling boy using inhaler

Understanding your condition is the first step

If you have asthma your airways are always inflamed. They become even more swollen and the muscles around the airways can tighten when something triggers your symptoms. This makes it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs, causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and/or chest tightness. Asthma does not go away when symptoms go away. Treatment is the key to keeping asthma under control.

What is an asthma episode or attack?

Asthma symptoms, also called an asthma episode or attack, are often caused by allergies and exposure to allergens. During an asthma episode, breathing becomes very difficult. In a severe asthma attack, the airways can close enough to stop your breathing. Using your asthma medicine will help prevent attacks. Here is what happens:

  • The lining of your airways start to swell
  • Your airways fill with thick, sticky mucus
  • Air has trouble getting into your lungs
  • You may cough, wheeze and feel short of breath

What are the signs of an episode or attack?

Asthma attacks rarely occur without warning. Know the warning signs and how to react to them. This may help you avoid an asthma attack. Signs may be different for every person, but the most common signs are:

  • Chronic cough, especially at night
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing (a whistling sound when breathing)
  • Feeling tired
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting (This is not as common but some people vomit when they have an episode.)

Asthma episodes can be scary.  Immediate action is required to prevent asthma episodes from getting worse.
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